Friday, October 11, 2013

Debt Limit Extraordinary Measures Should Be Repealed.

The House is proposing to eliminate the "extraordinary measures" that delay hitting the debt ceiling. Some people think this is a bad idea or a poison pill but it is not. These special procedures started out as a method to give the Treasury flexibility but have turned into something completely different. They have essentially allowed the Republicans to force a delay in when we hit the debt limit by essentially requiring the Treasury to take money from the civil service retirement fund the federal employees 401(k) plan and other sources. In doing so all they have done is delay the inevitable. Moreover, they have added uncertainty to the process, something that increases the danger that the debt limit will be crossed.

Here is the type of announcement the Treasury uses to invoke the special measures:

Today, the United States has reached the statutory debt limit. Secretary Geithner sent the following letter to Congress this morning alerting them to actions that have be taken to create additional headroom under the debt limit so that Treasury can continue funding obligations made by Congresses past and present. The Secretary declared a "debt issuance suspension period" for the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, permitting Treasury to redeem a portion of existing Treasury securities held by that fund as investments and suspend issuance of new Treasury securities to that fund as investments. He also suspended the daily reinvestment of Treasury securities held as investments by the Government Securities Investment Fund of the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Thrift Savings Plan. For more information on these measures, please read this FAQ.

These are but two of the several measures the Treasury uses to delay the day of reckoning. Treasury takes civil-service retirement contributions and instead of investing them in securities, uses them to pay other obligations. It also takes money contributed by federal employees to their 401(k) and instead of investing it, uses that money to pay off other obligations.

It should be noted that this is not what happens with Social Security and other trust funds. This is something totally different and pernicious and it only affects Federal employee money and some other things like the issuance of State and Local Government Series Treasury Securities.

Under normal circumstances all trust fund accounts, whether Social Security, Medicare, Highway Trust Fund, Civil Service Retirement Fund, et al., are invested in special issue Treasury instruments and are part of the national debt. They are under the heading of Debt Not Held By The Public.

But there is a law that applies to Civil Service Retirement Trust funds that allows Treasury to cancel the instruments in the CSRS fund when it reaches the debt ceiling. Once those instruments are cancelled, the national debt is reduced by that amount and the money can be spent for expenses, like Boehner's salary. The law requires the money to eventually be paid back, but for now the instruments are gone. This debt cancellation cannot be done with the Social Security or most other trust funds.

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) funds can also be raided under these procedures. The TSP is a 401k administered by a separate board. Federal employees have many choices of where to invest their funds including, stocks, bonds, real estate and Government Securities. This law applies only to money in the G Fund and it allows Treasury to cancel those government securities and spend the money. Also new money designated for the G Fund can be directly spent. Again, the law says it must be redeposited later, but right now the debt is cancelled, and that is why it doesn't it isn't part of the national debt.

Congress should eliminate the authority for these special measures. What started out as something to be used rarely and only in extraordinary circumstances has now been used every time we reach the debt limit and has merely delayed when the final day of reckoning arrives. These extraordinary measures hurt the process by adding uncertainty and confusion and creating the impression the Treasury has some magical tricks that can prevent debt limit catastrophe. And once again it is federal employees who are the victims of Congress' incompetence.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The President Restates That There Are No 14th Amendment Tricks Around The Debt Ceiling

At todays press conference the President restated what he said in January that there are no tricks around the debt ceiling, such as the 14th Amendment, gigantic coins or script.

And I know there's been some discussion, for example, about my powers under the 14th Amendment to go ahead and ignore the debt ceiling law. Setting aside the legal analysis, what matters is -- is that if you start having a situation in which there -- there's legal controversy about the U.S. Treasury's authority to issue debt, the damage will have been done even if that were constitutional, because people wouldn't be sure. It'd be tied up in litigation for a long time. That's going to make people nervous.

So -- so a lot of the strategies that people have talked about -- well, the president can roll out a big coin and -- or, you know, he can -- he can resort to some other constitutional measure -- what people ignore is that ultimately what matters is, what do the people who are buying Treasury bills think? And again, I'll -- I'll just boil it down in very personal terms.

If you're buying a house, and you're not sure whether the seller has title to the house, you're going to be pretty nervous about buying it. And at minimum, you'd want a much cheaper price to buy that house because you wouldn't be sure whether or not you're going to own it at the end. Most of us would just walk away because no matter how much we like the house, we'd say to ourselves the last thing I want is to find out after I've bought it that I don't actually own it.

Well, the same thing is true if I'm buying Treasury bills from the U.S. government, and here I am sitting here -- you know, what if there's a Supreme Court case deciding that these aren't valid, that these aren't, you know, valid legal instruments obligating the U.S. government to pay me? I'm going to be stressed, which means I may not purchase. And if I do purchase them, I'm going to ask for a big premium.

So there are no magic bullets here. There's one simple way of doing it, and that is Congress going in and voting.
And the fact that right now there are votes, I believe, to go ahead and take this drama off the table should at least be tested. Speaker Boehner keeps on saying he doesn't have the votes for it, and what I've said is, put it on the floor. See what happens. And at minimum, let every member of Congress be on record. Let them -- let them vote to keep the government open or not, and they can determine where they stand and defend that vote to their constituencies. And let them vote on whether or not America should pay its bills or not. And if, in fact, some of these folks really believe that it's not that big of a deal, they can vote no.

And that'll be useful information to -- for voters to have. And if it fails and we do end up defaulting, I think voters should know exactly who voted not to pay our bills, so that they can be responsible for the consequences that come with it.

These positions are not new. In a January 14, 2013 press conference he said "There are no magic tricks here, there are no loopholes." This reiterated what the President, through the Treasury, stated a few days earlier that he will not use the platinum coin option. Both statements echoed his decision in 2011 that he would not use the 14th Amendment option.

All of all these issues are discussed in this post and here is a summary.

It has been argued the President could use the authority to mint a platinum coin in a trillion dollar denomination and use those funds to continue to pay the Treasury's bills. The second alternative was to use his authority to issue scrip that would be used to pay the debts of United States until the debt limit that could be raised and real dollars borrowed. The third option was for the President to simply say that he has the authority under the 14th Amendment, or some other constitution provision, to issue debt notwithstanding the fact that the issuance would exceed the amount of the debt limit law.

The President will not choose the first two options because, whether or not one thinks he has the legal authority to issue a platinum coin or issue scrip, the President knows that both internationally and domestically taking either of those actions would be viewed as a gimmick, a magic trick. They would at the least raise significant legal issues that would call into question the validity of any debt that is issued. Also, either of those actions would merely be kicking the can down the road. They would be giving the Congress an excuse to not raise the debt limit because the President would have continued to keep the country operating and the Republicans would have been let lose to fight the President in the courts and through impeachment hearings.

The third option was for the President to assert that the 14th Amendment gives him the authority, if not a requirement, to avoid default notwithstanding the debt limit. But this assertion would not only raise the legal and practical issues of the first two, but also create a significant Constitutional crisis, a crisis between the President and the Congress as well as between the President and the Supreme Court.

Asserting this position is not the same as a conflict between two statutes, where the President interprets one statute as overriding another. Many people have suggested this possibility by arguing that the Congress has passed Appropriations Acts and that they require the President to spend the money appropriated, a requirement which conflicts with the debt limit law. That argument has little merit. There is no statute that says money that is appropriated must be spent if there is no money available. In fact, if you look at every Appropriations Act the lead off language is ,
"That the following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, . . . . . "

"Any money in the Treasury." Very soon if Treasury cannot borrow money and put it in the Treasury, there will only be two dollars in the Treasury for every three dollars of bills coming due. Appropriations acts simply do not authorize let alone require the expenditure of funds that the Treasury does not have. There is no conflict between Appropriations Laws and the Debt Limit law. One tells Treasury how to spend money in the Treasury, the other limits how much can be borrowed to put money in the Treasury. This question is totally different than the question of whether the President can refuse to spend appropriated funds when such funds are available, which the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional.

Simply put we are talking about the President asserting the power to unilaterally decide whether he will comply with laws that are duly enacted by Congress and signed by the President. Except for Nixon no President has done that, in this way, since Lincoln suspended the Habeas Corpus provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The action was challenged by a prisoner but Lincoln ignored a court decision which ruled the action Unconstitutional. Eventually, however, Congress essentially ratified his action.

The President would be effectively declaring the debt limit built to be unconstitutional because it conflicted with his 14th amendment powers. He would be declaring unconstitutional a law that was passed many decades ago and has been amended scores of times since then. A law which during all that time no President has ever declared to be unconstitutional or in any way inconsistent with the President's powers under the 14th amendment.

The President has made clear that he will not take these actions. He knows they do not solve the underlying problem and run the risk of chaos over an extended period of time in the international financial markets and damage to the standing of the United States that may take a long time to fix. And it goes without saying that the political chaos this would create domestically would ruin any chance of his being able to achieve anything in his second term.

Monday, September 09, 2013

President Obama May Be About To Achieve His Syria/Chemical Weapons Objectives

Congress is considering a resolution that would authorize the President to use force against Syria for a limited period of time and restrict the force that could be used by excluding ground troops. Recent developments suggest that the resolution will soon be amended. Secretary Kerry stated that one way for the Assad regime to avoid military strikes was to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile. Apparently Kerry has suggested this in the past to his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, but made little progress in getting Russian agreement, something that is critical to getting Syria to act. Now the Russians are jumping on the idea and Lavrov offered a proposal for Syria's chemical weapons to be turned over to an international body. The Assad regime has given its initial support to the Russian initiative.

It remains to be seen whether either the Russians or Syria are serious about this but the concept is a useful one that could be included in the resolution for the use of military force. For that reason look for the resolution currently under consideration to be be amended to include some form of trigger that would allow Syria to avoid military action by relinquishing its chemical weapons stockpile to international control. How that is worded and what form the trigger will take is yet to be seen. But there is a reasonable possibility that the resolution will take this form in the coming days.

From the beginning of the Syria conflict President Obama has opposed United States intervention. Initially he opposed giving even non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels and was only committed to aiding the countries that were taking in Syrian refugees. As the pressure from war hawks mounted and as the conflict became more intense he decided to start giving non-lethal aid to the rebels. Then, after the initial reports of possible gas attacks,but which were convincing not sourced well enough to justify a firm response, the President warned Assad against further use and agreed to provide lethal aid to the Syrian rebels. Finally, after the August 21st chemical weapons attacks in Damascus, attacks which the intelligence community gave its highest rating of probability as having been conducted by the Syrian government, the President decided that the only way to deter further use was to launch a limited military strike.

But the goal of the military strike has always been clear - to deter the Assad regime from using chemical weapons, to degrade their ability to use such weapons and to reinforce the international norm against the use of such weapons. While are the goals it was also recognized that a side affect of the military attacks would be to degrade Syria's overall military capabilities and by extension, benefit the Syrian rebels.

The President's attempts to get Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the limited use of force for this limited purpose have been met with considerable opposition. Some of the opposition has been based on totally valid reasons and some has not.

Valid reasons for opposing the resolution include the belief that it will not achieve its objective; general opposition to the use of force under any circumstances; overall war weariness; and the belief that chemical weapons do not deserve special treatment. This reasoning holds that if we were unwilling to act when 100,000 people were killed using bullets and bombs, the death of an additional thousand people through chemical weapons should not change that equation.

Invalid reasons include the position that anything this President proposes must be opposed because of who he is, or that since the resolution does not provide for full scale war against Syria it is insufficient and therefore limited strikes will not be supported.

But with this new development the level and nature of the opposition to a Syria resolution may now change. There will of course be some persons who will continue to oppose any resolution, including one that enables Assad to avoid military action by ceding control over his chemical weapons. But for others it may well make a difference. Those are the people who, notwithstanding their war weariness and their determination to avoid our getting directly involved in the Syrian conflict, believe that chemical weapons truly are different. They believe that it is critical that the United States and the international community do more than pay lip service to the international norm against their use.

In connection with this amended Congressional resolution, there is a likelihood that we will see an effort to pass resolution out of the United Nations Security Council that condemns the use of chemical weapons and establishes a framework for Assad's weapons to be turned over to international control. The United States may also try to see if it can convince the Russians to include a specific condemnation of Assad and the type of trigger that would authorize the use of military force in the event Bashir Assad does not comply. It will be interesting to see if the Russians continue to object to this last element. It is also unknown how the Chinese will respond.

What is arguably most important about this new development is that it will focus all this discussion on chemical weapons and enable the President to achieve his twin objectives of deterring the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and reinforcing the international norm against such weapons.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Assad Gassed His People, Even Opponents Of Syria Resolution Agree. Question Is What To Do

The Senators and Representatives who have seen the classified materials agree that Assad gassed his people. That includes those who are strongly against intervention. The debate is over what if anything should be done.

Here are some samples of statements by opponents of intervention on the question of whether Assad perpetrated the Damascus attacks:

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

I want to repeat that I am horrified by what Bashar al-Assad has done to his own people. He has committed a heinous act and a violation of the Geneva Convention no doubt about it. However, I still believe this proposal is the wrong course of action for the United States and its military.

I am voting no because this policy moves the United States toward greater American conflict and increasing regional conflict.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria is a human rights atrocity and a blatant violation of international law. It’s impossible to see the horrific images of death and suffering in Syria and not feel compelled to act in some way. But there is not always an American solution to every international crisis. For me, today's vote was a close call, but in the end, I voted no because I believe that the downside risks of military action, both for U.S. interests and the Syrian people, outweigh the potential benefits.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)

“Over the last two years, the Assad regime has committed terrible atrocities against thousands of innocent men, women and children in Syria. I join the rest of America in strongly condemning these awful acts of violence.

“This past week, I’ve participated in both open and closed hearings with the Administration about the President’s call for military strikes in Syria. Like most folks back home, I am concerned about the Administration’s willingness to commit to military action without providing an ultimate objective and an overall strategic plan in Syria.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)

“I don’t see where any imminent threat to the United States is evident,” he said. “I do believe that chemical weapons were probably used in Syria but I don’t understand and don’t see a way that we involve the United States in this. So I plan on voting no.”

Michael McCall (R-TX)

I think what gives Congress great pause, and the American people great pause, is there's no good outcome here. They don't see a good side versus a bad side. They see Assad as a bad actor who's used chemical weapons. There's no question about that. But then who is the other side? Who are the rebel forces?

Ted Yoho (R-FL)

The use of chemical weapons is deplorable and should be decried as such by the rest of the world, yet for some reason some people think it is the United States alone who must enforce the world’s outrage. The philosophy that the United States should be the world’s police is one that will lead to our own demise.”

The members of the House and Senate of both parties who have seen the materials agree on two things - there was a gas attack on Damascus and Assad's troops did it. They disagree on the response.

This is not Bush and Iraq, and bogus intelligence to support a war that was unjustified even if the intelligence had been accurate. This is a question of Assad using gas increasingly over several months until the last usage was so egregious that some response is warranted.

When earlier uses were suspected but not conclusively confirmed, Assad was warned directly, and through intermediaries like Russia, that he needed to cease. Instead he escalated. The only debate now is what, if anything, that has not already been tried should be done.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Congressional Letter On Syria AUMF

The following was sent to my Members of Congress, Senator Bennet, Senator Udall and Representative Tipton.

"I urge you to Vote for the Syria Joint Resolution to "Authorize The Limited And Tailored Use Of The United States Armed Forces Against Syria." It is absolutely essential that the United States take action to respond to the use of chemical weapons by Syria. The last time we faced this issue in the Iran-Iraq war we did nothing when Iraq killed tens of thousands of Iranians with chemicals weapons.

To put my position in perspective I view this as analogous to the naked aggression of Iraq against Kuwait, which is why I supported the Gulf War resolution. Similarly, I supported the Afghan resolution because it was a response to aggression. On the other hand I opposed the Iraq AUMF resolution because it was not in response to anything and was based on ridiculous assertions of a future threat to the United States.

I do not believe the United States should be actively engaged in the Syrian Civil War. But I also believe that unless we respond to this use of chemical weapons there will be two consequences. First, Syria will be emboldened and will continue to use chemicals weapons realizing that there will be no consequences. Second, for all intents and purposes there will be no enforceable international norms on any issue moving forward. Rights without remedies are not rights. And prohibitions without penalties are not prohibitions. It is time to make clear that the rules against indecency and inhumanity will be enforced."

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Why Did Assad Use Chemicals? We Finally Have A Plausible Answer

On August 30 I heard an interview on NPR with retired General Jack Keane that had the effect of prospectively fleshing out an important part of Secretary Kerry's presentation that was made a few hours later. I did not write about Keane's NPR interview at first because, although thought provoking, I had never heard it before. While Keane often has good inside information I'm a real skeptic when it comes to his policy judgements and recommendations. But confirmation came for me in Secretary Kerry's speech. With that I think I'm officially off the fence.

In his presentation on Syria Kerry stated,

We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so.

But the details of what Kerry was saying were not included in his speech. As it turns out that detail had been provided earlier in the morning by Gen. Keane in his NPR interview.

Keane said that Assad's regime has been trying to clear the rebels from this Damascus suburb for some time without success using aircraft. Then a few weeks ago the rebels received a shipment of arms from Saudi Arabia that included shoulder fired antiaircraft weapons. Using those weapons the rebels shot down two of Assad's aircraft. Since then, no aircraft have flown. Instead, Assad tried continual barrages of conventional artillery but had no luck in dislodging the rebels. That is why he decided to use chemical weapons.

I have thought that the use of chemical weapons would be suicidal for Assad and that most regimes are not suicidal. That is why I was highly skeptical that Assad had use these weapons, believing it equally likely that this was a disinformation campaign. This had the feeling of a Syrian version of the Iraq curveball exercise , where the anti-Hussein factions used every conceivable form of deceit to dupe us into invading. However, it is not suicidal to use chemical weapons when they are your only choice in defeating an enemy. That is why Saddam Hussein use them when he was losing the war against Iran and apparently that is why Assad is using them now.

As a general matter I agree that "dead is dead." Generally it makes no difference what the means of your demise is. But chemical weapons are different in the sense that their affects are usually indiscriminate. And in this case they are being used deliberately against civilian targets. Additionally, the method of death can be important if it is one that causes long periods of extended suffering. That is what chemical weapons do. They often don't kill but leave the victims maimed. In the case of blister agents, they also leave the victims horribly disfigured and in terrible agony.

Since Assad has apparently decided that he can use chemical weapons I am now convinced it is incumbent upon someone, anyone, and if no one else, the United States, to tell him no. You are violating international norms and you will be held to account. You must understand that he cannot adopt a strategy of using chemical weapons against his people.

I believe the President makes this decision very reluctantly. I suspect that he may see it as the moral equivalent of Rwanda or maybe trying to undue the precedent of the US ignoring Iraq's use of chemical weapons in the Iran/Iraq War. But while he makes this decision reluctantly, I'm certain he feels he has no other choice.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Don't Further Privatize National Security

There are proposals in Congress that would prohibit NSA from collecting communications metadata. If enacted this would have the effect of further privatizing intelligence gathering and national security. This is a bad idea. The intelligence community is already using far too many contractors, such as Booz Allen, to conduct what are essentially government functions. The last thing we need is more privatization of the government.

The Senate held an informative hearing on the NSA metadata collection program this morning. The purpose was to identify problems in the program and possible legislative changes. This article addresses one of those issues - Who should maintain the data.

By way of background here are links to the three documents that were declassified today regarding this program. 1) 2009 Report to Congress 2) FISA Court Primary Order 3) 2011 Report To Congress

Here's the issue. If the intelligence agencies have identified a phone number that they have a reasonable, articulable suspicion belongs to a person who has engaged in terrorism or is otherwise an enemy of the United States they investigate further. Most people believe that the Government should do something with that information, not just sit on it. The logical thing for them to do is see whether that phone number has contacted any phone numbers in the United States or any other country. At this point they do not know if there have been any contacts within the United States let alone who those contacts may be or where they may be located. Therefore they need to do as broad a search as possible to determine whether that phone number shows up in the call data of phone calls in the United States. To do that, intelligence agencies must have access to phone numbers in the United States that could have been contacted by that foreign number.

There are three ways to go about this. The United States can collect the phone call data from all of the phone companies and combine it in a way that enables the Agency to quickly do a search on the entire database. Keep in mind that at this point the only thing the government is trying to do is identify domestic phone numbers that communicated with the foreign phone number and, potentially, numbers that those people may be calling. That is what is currently happening.

There are two other ways to do this. Rather than collecting the data, the United States could require that the phone companies maintain the databases themselves. Then, when the agency wishes to see if a phone number that is linked to a terrorist has been in contact with any phone numbers in the United States it could send its agents to each of the phone companies and do separate searches of the individual databases to see if there are any contacts. Alternatively the United States could request that the phone company employees do the search and provide the information to the government.

For the system to work if the Government doesn't maintain the data, laws would have to be enacted which require the phone companies to keep the records for some period of time beyond what their pure business purpose is. The government generally likes to keep these records for up to five years whereas many phone companies may only keep them for a year or less. There will also be some other requirements. The phone companies will have to comply with government requirements for security. The data will have to be maintained in a way that is searchable for intelligence purposes, separate from the companies business purposes. In addition the phone companies will have to employ persons who have the proper security clearances and laws will have to be enacted similar to those applicable to government employees, which criminalize the unauthorized use of those phone data logs. And since all of these requirements will cost money the Government will have to pay the companies for carrying out these activities.

Also, the United States is going to have to feel good about having to ask China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and all of the other phone companies, whether domestic or foreign, that do telecon business in the United States, to carry out our foreign intelligence activities, essentially handing over an essential government function to private companies including foreign companies.

Most people, including me, have concerns about the way the current NSA program is being conducted. There are real concerns about transparency, monitoring and controls. But we need to think carefully before embracing alternatives. Turning each American phone companies let alone foreign companies into privatized NSAs is not a good idea. We need to address the concerns about transparency by addressing those concerns directly, not by privatizing the activity. We need to address the concerns about the FISA court directly, not by thinking they will go away if the databases are maintained and queried by private companies as opposed to the NSA.

One thing is certain. The American people will never accept a situation in which the US government obtains intelligence about potential terrorism in the United States and does nothing about it. It is hard to imagine many Americans, let alone Members of Congress, who would advocate ignoring actionable intelligence. Here is an excerpt from the 2011 memorandum that explains why:

Prior to the attacks of 9/11, the NSA intercepted and transcribed seven calls from hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar to a facility associated with an al Qa'ida safehouse in Yemen. However, NSA's access point overseas did not provide the technical data indicating the location from where al-Mihdhar was calling. Lacking the originating phone number, NSA concluded that al-Mihdhar was overseas. In fact, al-Mihdhar was calling from San Diego. California. According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pages 269-272):

"Investigations or interrogation of them [Khalid al-Mihdhar, etc], and investigation of their travel andfinancial activities could have yielded evidence of connections to other participants in the 9/1] plot. The simple fact of their detention could have derailed the plan. In any case, the opportunity did not arise."

Today, under FISA Court authorization pursuant to the "business records" authority of the FISA (commonly referred to as "Section 215"), the govemment has developed a program to close the gap that allowed al-Mihdhar to plot undetected within the United States.

When overseas contact information is developed the first action is always to see whether a phone number of a suspected terrorist has been in contact with phone numbers in the United States or elsewhere in the world. That will not stop. The issue before the Congress now is to ensure that it is done in the most effective and efficient manner, that is as protective as possible of the privacy rights of Americans.

There are many good ideas that are being discussed in connection with the administration of the NSA's phone data collection activities. Clearly the issue of transparency is one that needs to be worked on. Also, there may be ways to make people have more confidence in the activities of the FISA court. But turning our private phone companies into arms of the federal government makes no sense at all. It is not only a logistic and operational nightmare but it furthers the process of turning government activities into corporate activities. We have been going down this road for many decades whether in the area of prisons, defense contracting, and virtually anything else you can name. In virtually every instance the result is higher cost, lower quality, and less accountability.

For people who are concerned about accountability of the government, imagine what happens if Verizon and China Mobile are storing the data and conducting searches. One can guess that most people will come to the conclusion that this is not the way we want to go.