Knowledge is power

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Yikes. When an author I know sent me insider info from a well-informed “friend” that the Homeland Security Bill had a provision allowing for the forced vaccination of all Americans in a national health emergency, I must admit I took it for the sort of deep conspiracy stuff I automatically filter out of what I care to send out. Then I promptly filtered it out of my brain — until, that is, I read the second piece below, from the Christian Science Monitor (via the warincontext website), which includes forced vaccination in its hair-raising list of provisions buried deep in its 484 pages. (On the other hand, what isn’t hair-raising these days?)

And then there’s old John Poindexter, of Iran-Contra fame, back in the saddle again and riding a Pentagon spy-on-everything computer system into what was previously our sunset. (See the Guardian piece below.) And let’s not forget the court-approved expanded wiretapping capabilities of the Justice Department, and who knows what else has just passed me by. Of course, this is the government “intelligence” system that had every conversation on earth heading its way before September 11th and no translators. So there’s a slight shred of hope for us citizens. Maybe they’ve finally got their Arabic translators lined up, but they haven’t bothered with the English ones.

I noticed yesterday that even our ex-Veep, missing-in-action for the last year, and now blitzing the country on a book tour (an album of family values photos and the like) managed to say: “We have always held out the shibboleth of Big Brother as a nightmarish vision of the future that we’re going to avoid at all costs They have now taken the most fateful step in the direction of that Big Brother nightmare that any president has ever allowed to occur.” Unfortunately, having caught Gore in action on TV this week, I have to say that — though he comes alive when discussing the environment — watching him answer questions is like watching some huge beast trying to mobilize its recalcitrant body or reading a novelist who can’t manage to get one of his characters out of a room. Tom

This perfect system
By Matthew Engel, November 19, 2002, The Guardian

The elite American press prides itself on its old-fashioned inaccessibility: grey type, don’t-read-me layout, and, on a bad day, totally impenetrable prose. Perhaps the Washington Post has already revealed that Osama bin Laden is working in an attorney’s office in downtown DC, but none of us have managed to get to page A27 to read the story.

This tendency may partially explain the strange lack of reaction to news of the return of one John Poindexter: a name that might sound familiar, but which perhaps only the most obsessive pub quizzer could immediately place.

Vice-Admiral Poindexter was national security adviser in the Reagan administration before being named as “the decision-making head” of the Iran-Contra affair, the scheme to sell weapons to Iran to fund anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua. He was jailed, but eventually got off, solely because it was ruled that his evidence had congressional immunity.

For more of this Guardian piece click here

Security act to pervade daily lives
By Gail Russell Chaddock, November 21, 2002, The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – When you board a plane in the next year, your pilot may be armed. Make a call from a pay phone at the ballpark, and it may be tapped. Pay for a sandwich with a credit card, and the transaction may wind up in an electronic file with your tax returns, travel history, and speeding tickets.

These are some of the ways that the biggest reorganization of the federal government in half a century could trickle down into the minutiae of the daily life of Americans.

The Homeland Security Act that President Bush is poised to sign is sweeping in scope and will have big consequences, intended and unintended, on everything from civil liberties of Americans to due process for immigrants.

For more of this Christian Science Monitor piece click here