Letters to the Editor

Week of January 1, 2003

Turning the Tables

Wake up, folks!: Your columnist Matt Smith is one of the great American heroes of our time for turning the tables on Total Information Awareness and publishing John Poindexter's personal information [“Calling All Yahoos,” Nov. 27; “The International Poindextering of Poindexter,” Dec. 11; and “The Poindexter Effect,” Dec. 24].

I think his story will wake the sleeping giant aka the American people.

I am going to write about his column, provide links to my readers to the photos, and keep an ear to the ground on other information that is coming out about other officials in the government.

As a good and faithful American, I am going to do my part. I will trumpet these successes to my 62,000 readers each and every time someone is uncovered. And, I am going to provide a list on my Web site for all to see.

I would like to thank Smith for his article. I consider it the first shot in the new American Revolution.

Virginia McCabe, Editor
Atlantic Daily Sentinel
Galloway, N.J.

Not a fan: Matt Smith is an asshole.

Charles Garrison
Via the Internet

My hero!: Absolutely brilliant piece of work! Smith is my hero! Was considering a move to Australia, but I might hold out for the new “Canada.” Current Canada too cold! I'm a lifelong Floridian and experiencing the double Bushwhack. It's not pleasant.

Keep on keepin' on, man!

Eileen Shannahan
Via the Internet

J'accuse!: One of the reasons journalists are routinely considered to have great jobs and at the same time are next to the bottom (above only politicians) in public esteem polls — that is, they are viewed as contemptible — is that they hold themselves above the rules. They can publish information on someone they don't like — such as Adm. Poindexter — and bask in their moral superiority at the same time.

A mediocre j-school grad in a third-tier weekly got his day in the sunshine and he got to do it according to j-school rules: A journalist can vent their spleen in ways that damage others so long as they attribute it to their commitment to their own higher morality.

I disagree with the government but I'm nauseated by the kind of high school bravado of your grandstanding columnist — he does more harm to his cause in the long term than he does good.

Of course, at our j-school he is now looked up to — the entire lower one-third of the program want to pull a stunt like his. He entertains the jackals and has bragging rights in the break room. The SF Weekly is about as high as this boy's career is going to go — I hope he likes it there.

Carson Bennett
Via the Internet

Cut off his goodies: In South America, the people have taken to doing just what Smith describes in his article: not serving those public officials complicit in crimes against the people (the “disappearing” of people for political reasons). Restaurants will not serve them, newspapers are not delivered to their houses, store clerks do not attend to them, taxis will not pick them up. That sounds like a very nonviolent response with a very sharp point. Why not here?

Tina Alvarez
San Francisco

Who's in charge of this playpen?: Amazing how predictable are the shrill voices of your news reporters. However, it appears that the inconsistency of privacy-rights advocates such as Matt Smith to invade privacy escapes them. Perhaps more adult supervision is required.

Derrick Brown
Via the Internet

Opposites attract: I'm sure Smith and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum but I'm in his corner when it comes to this federal government snooping into our personal lives. I hope he can make life miserable for Poindexter, that sorry, Gestapo-like bastard.

I voted for Bush, but I don't trust him. The only terrorists I see, other than Timothy McVeigh, are Arab Islamic extremists and now we are having to all live by the same rules they do.

Bill Quattlebaum
Evans, Ga.

Good for something: Bravo! Although Bush commands us to be docile and subservient, it is good to see that Smith prefers the more traditional patriotic response, which used to go something like “Get your goddamn boot off my neck!” I find it passing strange that the right-wing cowboys pride themselves on marching in such lock step with their “leaders.” It seems like tough guys like them would think for themselves now and then.

I have SF Weekly's Web site handy now. I confess that I didn't know about you until I saw the story on the Drudge Report. I guess he is good for something after all.

Charlie St. Dizier
Lake Charles, La.

Take this a little further: Right on with posting that Maryland guy's address and phone number. I hope his mailbox is flooded. His address he can't change easily, like his phone number which now says he's not available for calls. You should find his new contact info and post it. Anybody dumb and inconsiderate enough to do what he's trying to do isn't going to learn that easy. You should even post the make, color, and plate number of his car. Shit, he'd do it to me and you, wouldn't he? It's not just California that thinks the way you do!

Denis Tessier Jr.
Newmarket, N.H.

Poindexter's no hero to me: I resent the implication that Poindexter has “long [been] a hero to Republicans” for staying out of prison on a technicality. A hero to Ollie North, maybe, but not me.

Many people like myself vote for the GOP and also strongly support maintaining privacy and personal freedoms. Note the farewell speech of retiring Republican Rep. Dick Armey, who spoke on the theme of protecting and preserving our rights, including privacy. Stereotyping is wrong, no matter to whom it is done. [page]

Eric Anderson
Ankeny, Iowa

Watch out, sniveling liberal: Re: hassling Poindexter by libs (commies), looks like a photo of Smith's house, kids, dogs, phone number, background check, credit report, etc. will go on our site. We'll send you the link.

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Pure propaganda: I thought your readers might be interested in the following quote from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [darpa.mil]: “The goal of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program is to revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists — and decipher their plans — and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts.”

What a load of bull. Ask the security services in the U.S., U.K., Indonesia (Bali), or anywhere for that matter, to deny this:

Internet surveillance, using Echelon, Carnivore, or back doors in encryption, will not stop terrorists communicating by other means — most especially face to face or personal courier. Terrorists will have to do that, or they will be caught. Perhaps they could use a mobile phone when absolutely essential, saying, “Meet you in the pub Monday” (meaning, human bomb to Target A), or Tuesday (Target B), or Sunday (abort).

The Internet has become a tool for government to snoop on their people, 24/7. The terrorism argument is a dummy. Internet surveillance will not stop terrorists — that's spin and propaganda.

This propaganda is for several reasons, including: a) making you feel safer, b) to say the government is doing something, and c) the more malicious motive of privacy invasion. Of surveillance, governments say, “You've nothing to fear — if you are not breaking the law.” This argument is made to pressure people into acquiescence, otherwise they appear guilty of hiding something illegal. It does not address the real reason why governments want this information (which they will deny) — they want a surveillance society.

They wish to invade your basic human right to privacy. This is like having somebody watching everything you do: All your personal thoughts, hopes, and fears will be open to them.

This means everything — including phone calls and interactive TV. Here's a quote from ZDNET [zdnet.com]: “Whether you're just accessing a Web site, placing a phone call, watching TV or developing a Web service, sometime in the not too distant future, virtually all such transactions will converge around Internet protocols.”

“Why should I worry? I do not care if they know what I do in my own home,” you may foolishly say. Or, just as dumbly, “They will not be interested in anything I do.”

This information will be held about you until the authorities need it for anything at all. Like, for example, here in U.K. when government looked for dirt on members of the Paddington train crash survivors' group. It was led by badly injured Pam Warren. She had more than 20 operations after the 1999 rail crash, which killed 31 and injured many.

This group had fought for better and safer railways, all by legal means. By all accounts a group of fine outstanding people with good intent. So what was their crime to deserve this investigation? It was just for showing up members of government to be the incompetents they were.

As usual, government tried to put a different spin on the story when they were found out. Even so, their intent was obvious — they wanted to use this information as propaganda to smear the character of these good people. Our honorable government would rather defile the character of its citizens, rather than address their reasonable concerns.

The government arrogantly presume this group of citizens would not worry about having their privacy invaded.

They can also check whether your expenses match your income and if you are paying enough tax. What do you think all this privacy invasion is for? The War on Terrorism? You poor dupe. All your finances for them to scrutinize; heaven help you if you cannot account for every cent.

The authorities try to make everything they say sound perfectly reasonable. Officials from U.S. Defense Department have said they want “the same level of accountability in cyberspace that we now have in the physical world.”

Does government currently keep records of everything that you touch in the physical world to analyze? No, they do not. So, is that the same level of accountability?

They wish to keep an electronic tag on you, like some kind of animal. Actually it is even worse than this — like some pervert sex offender that they have to keep track of. Would any person of intelligence call that accountability?

Do not believe government lies. More of your money spent on these measures will not protect us from terrorists. Every argument they use is subterfuge, pure spin.

Garry Anderson
Haverhill, United Kingdom

Huh?: Just give me the number — how many more Americans have to die for you to give up your anti-American attitude? Three? Three hundred? Three thousand or more?

Cornel Fay
Budapest, Hungary

Jam him good: This is social protest at its most correct. “If enough Californians do thorough background checks on Mr. Poindexter, then use the information to jam his personal life in every possible — legal — way, perhaps Republicans will become annoyed enough to get rid of us once and for all. Perhaps if we phone residents of Poindexter's Rockville neighborhood often enough, the idea of California independence will become a goal of Washington insiders.”

Gunner Miller
Smyrna, Tenn.

Grow up!: I found Smith's article to be not just unprofessional, but juvenile and childish. That his editors would actually print it speak volumes about the media in general and SF Weekly in particular. It is one thing to disagree with [Poindexter's] policy but to attempt to subject him and his family to such harassment is despicable. [page]

Perhaps Smith is unaware of the information I had to provide just to send you this e-mail. He should grow up or find another profession. Writing books for kindergarten-age children might be within his ability.

John Dendy
Atlanta, Ga.

Let's keep an eye on this guy: In regards to Poindexter, a good start might be to ask for his credit card, driving, education, employment, and banking records. If we constantly demand those records — he is a criminal after all, and should be monitored — it might be fun.

Joe Prizzi
Columbus, Ohio

Brilliant!: Excellent work on this article. I am glad there are other people out there, besides me, who find the violation of our privacy an outrage. What a brilliant idea to use Poindexter as an example!

Lisa Burns
Lake Worth, Fla.

Shared viewpoint: Judging from the overall thrust of Smith's article, he and I agree on very little politically. Upon one point we certainly agree and that is Poindexter's antics. Keep up the pressure; he deserves every bit of it. As for me, I'll do what I can as a registered lifelong Republican to get that jerk-off Sen. Lott removed from any position of authority.

Mark Champagne
San Diego

California dreamin': I loved Smith's “Calling All Yahoos.” My wife dragged me to New Jersey around seven years ago. We lived in Southern California for 12 years, and I really miss the climate and business environment. Please be advised that not everyone on this coast is happy with the direction our country has taken since Bush was “selected.” My question is, if you Californians attain independence will you take some of us back?

And Matt, please be careful: You are now undoubtedly on a “watch list” yourself. It is reassuring to see articles like this published, since so much of the media is now controlled by big business with their own agendas.

Keep up the good work!

Michael Arlauskas
Butler, N.J.

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