is Power, Information is Control
November 27, 2002
By Lois Erwin
in the bowels (and, yes, that's the properly descriptive word
here) of the Pentagon, computer experts are busily setting
up the Total Information Awareness program, an all-seeing,
all knowing "intelligence" tool, to be headed by John Poindexter
of Iran/Contra infamy.
What are we to make of this? How should we think about it?
Let's recall another system from another time.
One of the ways the former Soviet Union was able to guarantee
full employment for all its citizens was to pay one-third
of its people to spy on the other two-thirds. We, in America,
with the current Bush administration, are rapidly approaching
that same sort of governmental snooping into our lives. Make
no mistake, every scrap of information on each of us will
be collected, sorted, stored and used to control us. To control
dissent. To control speech. To control assembly.
Think of your most private secrets; then think of those secrets
"leaked" by the government to right-wing TV commentators who
would use that information to embarrass, humiliate and torment
you if you don't sign an oath of allegiance to George W. Bush,
and promise never, ever to vote against, write against, or
speak against him ever again. That's control. Imagine that
same tactic employed to control journalists, and control the
dissemination of accurate news.
Information is power. Information is control.
And, do not make the mistake of thinking that because you
have nothing to hide such information collection cannot harm
you. What if the "collectors" don't quite get it right and
mix your name and files with someone else's, and you become
the target of hate and prejudice as a result?
After the Berlin Wall came down and Soviet control over East
Germany evaporated, the files of the Stasi, the East German
secret police, were opened to public view. East Germans were
stunned to see the amount of information that secret governmental
organization had collected on them. Many who had thought themselves
so innocent of wrongdoing that they would never be thought
worthy of investigation were appalled to see how much information
had been collected about them and put into the Stasi files
Think that could never happen here? Guess again. We have
now learned that the FBI has lost control of a "watch list"
it created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Names
on the list were inadvertently or deliberately leaked to parties
not entitled to the information. The names have shown up on
Internet websites, and some companies are using the information
to check on employees and prospective employees.
Unfortunately for Truth, many of the people whose names appeared
on the FBI's list have subsequently been cleared of any wrongdoing,
but their reputations have been destroyed. So much for: "If
you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about"!
In case anyone thinks I am exaggerating about the FBI's list
getting circulated onto the Internet and around various company
offices, read Molly Ivins as she quotes from The Wall Street
Journal (no less):
"And can we trust the government to keep all this
information solely for the task of tracking terrorists?
Funny you should ask. The Wall Street Journal reports
this week that shortly after Sept. 11, the FBI circulated
the names of hundreds of people it wanted to question
to scores of corporations around the country, sharing
the list with car rental companies, banks, travel firms,
casinos, truckers, chemical companies and power plants.
"A year later, the list has taken on a life of its own,
with multiplying -- and error-filled -- versions
being passed around like bootleg music. Some companies
fed a version of the list into their databases and now
use it to screen job applicants and customers." The
list included people who were not suspects at all,
just people the FBI wanted to talk to because they might
have had some information. But, the Journal reports, a
Venezuelan bank's security officer sent the list, headed
"suspected terrorists sent by the FBI," to a website."
Still think "it couldn't happen here"?
I hope you're not relying on the mainstream media pundits
to protect us, because, right now, they are part of the problem
when it comes to guarding our Constitutionally-guaranteed
rights, freedom and liberties. Those sorry creatures won't
wake up to the alarm bells until their own ox gets gored,
and by then it may be too late.