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THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 172, May 6, 2002
HIGH-RISK CARGO

Heartbreak Ridge

by Jeff Elkins
jeffelkins@earthlink.net
www.elkins.org

Special to TLE

Homeland Security Director, Tom Ridge is asking Silicon Valley to step up to the plate and "fight terror", which translates to more efficient devices to monitor your every move, track you from cradle to grave, biometrically scan you from top to bottom and probably calculate your schedule 1040 every April 15th.

Always coming up with taxes due, of course.

He's also bleating about the dangers of a high-tech Pearl Harbor. Osama bin Laptop and a broadband connection, wreaking "terror" on the Western World.

"One security analyst noted that many Silicon Valley firms he audited had great firewalls and no security downstairs," Ridge whined. "Anybody can walk in and sit at a computer. Terrorists sitting at one computer can create worldwide havoc. ... All a terrorist needs is a weapon of mass disruption."

Uh-huh. Please try this experiment: Casually stroll into any technology firm of your choice in the Valley, give the receptionist your best smile, seek out an unused terminal and start hacking into their network. Keep careful note of the time. Report back on just how long it takes before a beefy security guard shows up to hold you for the local cops.

About the only computer terror threatening worldwide havoc and mass disruption are the frequent email viruses faced by long-suffering Windows users. Usually unleashed by fifteen year old boys without a Friday night date, rather than swarthy foreigners hunched over keyboards, cackling "Death to the Great Satan's Godless Computer Infrastructure!"

I suppose we can expect federal ninjas to descend upon a certain large firm in Redmond, Washington, searching for the terrorist mastermind at the bottom of all this technological horror.

No wait, they already have.

"While terrorists may not share our entrepreneurial approach, they do have access to our technology. Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, used a laptop to research crop-dusters," Ridge thundered.

Right. The free world is in grave danger because Moussaoui logged on to Google and searched on "cropduster." I'm not sure what any of the eleven thousand or so hits would have told Moussaoui, but perhaps he narrowed his search a bit. Something like: "evil terrorist needs" + "crop duster" + "anthrax," or something similar.

Ridge also called for more powerful information scanning systems and database technology that could be used to cross-reference records on a person or vehicle in minutes. "We need this technology on our borders to separate high-risk people and high-risk cargo from no-risk people and no-risk cargo," Ridge said.

No Tom, you're wrong. All you really need to accomplish that is a modicum of common sense. But you knew that, and safety of the citizenry isn't your goal anyway, is it? It's all a scam, just more shuck and jive to keep vox populii nervous while the biggest power grab in American history, maybe even in world history, takes place under their noses.

The goal, one shared by his compatriot John Ashcroft, is a Surveillance Society, the likes of which George Orwell never imagined. And stalwart patriots like database technologist Larry Ellison of Oracle are ready, willing and able to assist in any way they can. For a fat federal contract of course. The dreaded National ID being step one.

We've been lucky up to now.

Federal computer systems are usually antiquated and lag behind current state of the art, both in software and hardware. That is changing and it's changing rapidly. My personal belief is that the marriage of high tech and government is the number one danger we face as free Americans. With both Ridge and Ashcroft speaking publically on this topic, you can bet that there are legions of federal ninja-nerds aching to plug your statistics into government computers.

Don't expect the formal introduction of a national identification card. That's happening via the back door.

We're seeing stealth efforts to convert our de facto national ID card, the driver's license, into a standardized biometric smart card, courtesy of your local department of motor vehicles. Once this step is complete, linking them into a central federal database is a technologically trivial task, given the tools available today.

Another stealth effort, is the so-called "trusted traveler card," being touted by various and sundry minions of Norman Mineta's Transportation Department. While not as dangerous as the effort to nationalize driver's licenses, this supposedly "voluntary" identification could well become actually mandatory, at least in effect.

Once national identification is in use by the majority, next will come the eventual elimination of cash, probably justified by "terrorist counterfeiters," with all purchases tied into your biometrically enhanced driver's license/id card. The way is being paved with new "know your customer" regulations being forumulated by Bush's Treasury Department, all in the name of this obscene "war on terror."

Imagine going down to the local supermarket and finding out that your ability to make a purchase has been turned off, because of back taxes. Or perhaps because you sent an unencrypted email critical of the government or visited a politically incorrect web site.

Sound like particularly paranoid science fiction? It's not.

It's the heartbreaking destruction of our freedom by those we entrust to preserve it.


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