The International Poindextering of Poindexter

Is it good or bad if 124 Web sites around the world post the home phone number of the architect of Total Information Awareness?

As you might imagine, all this talk was enough to make me uncomfortable, even if video stores aren't legally allowed to reveal their customers' tastes. Already, readers from as far away as Ireland were writing to say that Poindexter seemed to have shut off his home phone, not long after at least one reader had enjoyed an extended conversation with the admiral's wife, Linda Poindexter (see Letters, Page 9). One reader sent me a series of close-up satellite photos of Poindexter's neighborhood, nestled beside a suburban Maryland golf course. And I got a note from a Texan seeming an awful lot like one of those phone freaks Gilmore told me about:

Some information on Poindexter.

He apparently gets phone service from Verizon Maryland.

Telephone switch information:


301-424 WSNGTNZN10

He is served by a DMS 100 CO switch, which implies that he lives relatively nearby the phone company's central office (e.g., less than 25 kilofeet). He is in Washington local calling zone 10. Those numbers that can call him without a long distance charge are available on request.

Continue on your information search.

By the way, most folks who have clue in phones do not use dashes when they input tel numbers. They use dots.

I'm not sure what good knowing where the Poindexter family lies in its local telephone loop is going to do this global army of snoops I've spawned. And, reassuringly, I haven't heard from the super-geek types who have the hacker chops for credit card information, Social Security data, tax forms, phone records, etc.

With even a little information, though, big things are possible, Gilmore explained.

"You could figure out the phone number no matter how many times he changed it," Gilmore said. "If he went to cellular, people in the neighborhood could listen to it by receiver. The idea of demonstrating the uses of Total Information Awareness on Poindexter's home before they actually build [the database] will help in educating the public on how it could be used when it's up and running. How could I not want to help spread that around?"

But Gilmore's idea -- well, I guess it was my idea, actually -- that things might get better if Poindexter were sufficiently molested began to seem more fragile every time the notion popped up on another Web site. Poindexter, after all, is the super-achieving military officer who so firmly believed in Ronald Reagan's Arms-n-Contras-n-Mullahs scheme that he was willing to become that administration's only high-level fall guy.

While going an eye-for-an-eye against elite government officials makes for great humor-column copy, it doesn't exactly fit within the canon of nonviolent social protest. And it isn't just John Poindexter's fault that Americans have been losing incrementally greater freedoms during the past two years. Every Bush voter, every senator who supported the Patriot Act, every citizen who's not in some way objecting, is complicit in this travesty.

Besides, there's another concern, voiced by a New York reader who calls him- or herself "Brew":

"I sure hope the Bush Mafia doesn't kill you. I don't put it past them."

But there's no sense turning back now; Inverse Total Information Awareness has become part of the ether. I can't retrieve it. And who knows; perhaps if enough people mull over the idea of what it might be like to have personal information used against you, Total Information Awareness will become an unbearable liability for President Bush.

So, cyberlibertarians, do what you must. But please, please be careful out there.

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