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Political News--June & July 06

Private Corporations Supply Personal Data to Government--Palast

Over 10 U.S. Agencies buy data gather by private companies. 

 

THE SPIES WHO SHAG US
The Times and USA Today
                           have Missed the Bigger Story -- Again
by Greg Palast
For Buzzflash
Friday, May 12, 2006
 
From WWW.gregpalast.com 

I know you're shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that George 
Bush
                           is listening in on all your phone calls.  
Without a warrant.  That's nothing.  And it's 
not news.  This
                           is:  the snooping into your phone 
bill
                           is just the snout of the pig of a strange, 
lucrative link-up between the Administration's
                           
Homeland Security spy network and private 
companies operating beyond the reach of the laws 
meant to protect us from our government.  You can 
call it the privatization of the FBI -- thought 
is better described as the creation of a
                           private 
KGB.
 
********************
For the full story, see "Double Cheese With
                           Fear," 
in Armed Madhouse:  Who's Afraid
                           of Osama Wolf 
and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of 
the Class War." ********************
 
 
The leader in the field of what is called "data 
mining," is a company, formed in 1997, called, 
"ChoicePoint, Inc," which has sucked up over
                           a 
billion dollars in national security contracts. 
                           
 
Worried
                           about Dick Cheney listening in Sunday 
on your call to Mom?   That ain't nothing.  You 
should be more concerned that they are linking 
this info to your medical records, your bill
                           
purchases and your entire personal profile 
including, not incidentally, your voting 
registration. 
 
Five years ago, I discovered that ChoicePoint 
had already gathered 16 billion data files on 
Americans -- and I know they've expanded
                           their 
ops at an explosive rate.  They
                           are paid to 
keep an eye on you  --
                           because the FBI can't.  
For the government to collect this stuff is against 
the law unless
                           you're suspected of a crime.  
(The
                           law in question is the Constitution.)  But 
ChoicePoint
                           can collect if for "commercial" 
purchases -- and under the Bush Administration's
                           
suspect reading of the Patriot Act -- our 
domestic
                           spying apparatchiks can then BUY the 
info from hoicePoint.
 
Who ARE these guys selling George Bush a piece 
of you?  ChoicePoint's board has more Republicans 
than a Palm Beach country club.  It was funded, 
and its board stocked, by such Republican sugar 
daddies as billionaires Bernie Marcus and Ken 
Langone -- even after Langone
                           was charged by 
the Securities Exchange Commission with abuse 
of inside information.
 
I first ran across these guys in 2000 in Florida 
when our Guardian/BBC
                           team discovered the list 
of 94,000 "felons" that Katherine Harris had 
ordered removed from Florida's voter rolls 
before the election.  Virtually every voter 
purged was innocent
                           of any crime except, in 
most cases, Voting While Black.  Who came up 
with this electoral hit list that gave Bush the 
White House?  ChoicePoint, Inc. 
                           And worse, 
they KNEW the racially-tainted list of felons 
was bogus.   And when we caught
                           them, they lied 
about it.  While they've
                           since apologized to the 
NAACP, ChoicePoint's ethnic cleansing of voter 
rolls has been amply assuaged by the man the 
company elected.
 
And now ChoicePoint and George Bush want your blood.  
Forget your phone
                           bill.  ChoicePoint, a sickened 
executive
                           of the company told us in confidence, "hope[s] 
to build a database of DNA
                           samples from every 
person in the United States ...linked to all 
the other information held by CP [ChoicePoint]" 
from medical to voting records.   
 
And ChoicePoint lied about that too.  The 
company publicly denied they gave DNA to the 
Feds -- but then told our investigator, pretending
                           
to seek work, that ChoicePoint was "the number 
one" provider of DNA info to the FBI.  
 
"And that scares the hell out of me," said the 
executive (who has since left the company), 
because ChoicePoint gets it
                           WRONG so often.   
We are not contracting out our Homeland Security 
to James Bond
                           here.  It's more like Austin Powers, 
Inc.  Besides the 97% error rate in finding Florida 
"felons," Illinois
                           State Police fired the company 
after discovering ChoicePoint had produced test 
"results" on rape case evidence ... that didn't 
exist.  And ChoicePoint just got hit with the 
largest fine in Federal Trade
                           Commission history 
for letting identity thieves purchase 145,000 
credit card records.
 
But it won't stop, despite Republican senators 
shedding big crocodile tears about "surveillance"
                           
of innocent Americans.  That's
                           because FEAR is a 
lucrative business -- not just for ChoicePoint, 
but for firms such as Syntech, Sybase and Lockheed-Martin -- each 
of
                           which has provided lucrative posts or profits 
to connected Republicans including former
                           Total 
Information Awareness chief John Poindexter 
(Syntech), Marvin Bush (Sybase) and Lynn Cheney 
(Lockheed-Martin).  But how can they get Americans 
to give up our personal files, our phone
                           logs, our 
DNA and our rights? Easy. 
                           Fear sells better than 
sex -- and they want you to be afraid.  Back to 
today's New York Times, page 28: "Wider Use
                           of 
DNA Lists is Urged in Fighting Crime." 
                           And who 
is providing the technology?  
                           It comes, says the 
Times, from the work done on using DNA fragments 
to identity victims of the September 11 attack.  
And who did that job (for $12 million, no bid)? 
                           
ChoicePoint, Inc.  Which is NOT mentioned by the 
Times. 
                           "Genetic surveillance would thus shift 
from the individual [the alleged criminal]
                           to 
the family," says the Times -- which will require, 
of course, a national DNA database of NON-criminals.
 
It doesn't end there.  Turn to the same newspaper, 
page 23, with a story about a weird new law 
passed by the state of Georgia to fight illegal 
immigration.  Every single employer and government 
agency will be required to match citizen or 
worker data against national
                           databases to affirm 
citizenship. It won't stop illegal border crossing, 
but hey, someone's going to make big bucks on 
selling data.  And guess what local boy owns the 
data mine?  ChoicePoint, Inc., of Alpharetta, 
Georgia.
 
The knuckleheads at the Times don't put the three 
stories together because the real players
                           aren't 
in the press releases their reporters re-write. 
                           
But that's the Fear Industry for you.  You 
aren't safer from terrorists or criminals
                           or 
"felon" voters.  But the national
                           wallet is 
several billion dollars lighter and the Bill 
of Rights is a couple amendments shorter.  And 
that's their program.  They get the data 
mine -- and we get the shaft.

 

 


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