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Information is Power, Information is Control
November 27, 2002
By Lois Erwin

Deep 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." [Emphasis added]

-- Molly Ivins

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.

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