The little town of Wells, Vermont is
located on the western side of the Green Mountain State, 18 or so miles
the Route 4 which runs east to west. The population of this
strikingly beautiful rural community where I live is about 1,000
people. It is a town where most people segregated their
household trash and garbage taking it weekly to the transfer station.
Many fine Saturday morning philosophy sessions and discussions can be
heard in front of the town dumpsters. Building permits in Wells to this day are not required to build homes
nor to construct additions. Not yet, anyway. Vermont is a state with both the
least restrictive gun laws and often the lowest crimes rates in
the nation. Vermont often ranks 49th or 50th in crime
statistics. On September 29, 2005,
the townspeople voted for the second time on whether they would
a Town Hall. The town clerk's office is presently housed in a
very old building, poorly maintained that
has outgrown its usefulness and is no longer viable in protecting the
town records and documents. This time the people voted yes to
building a Town Hall by
an almost two-to-one margin. At an
informational meeting the day before the paper ballot vote, a fortunate
and generous resident publicly
donated $100,000 to the project. Another resident had already
donated the land on which the Town Hall is to be built. I voted
late on election day having worked in my office 66 miles away on
the New Hampshire border. When I arrived at the polling booth
familiar faces greeted me outside with smiles and conversation.
While voting took a mere minute, the commiserating, both before and
after, lasted almost two hours. Vermonters were, once again,
discussing the issues in an impromptu Town Hall Meeting on the Green,
though the actual Town Green was a block or so away.
The topic of discussion quickly turned
from the Town Hall issue to Vermont state issues, to the
Constitution, and onto more important matters.
It turned to privacy issues and what the government has a right to
know, and what it should know. Even in the small town of Wells, VT,
where some residents
have not left for many years, people were discussing biometrics, RFID
tagging, instant DNA identification, and other means of creating the Brave New World.
Security, it seems, for some, has a higher
value than freedom and privacy. If one has nothing to hide, the argument
went, then why not allow everyone to know everything about everybody?
Oh sure. As if the people can trust their neighbors and government to not misuse
access to their most personal and sensitive information? Total access to information about
everybody would insure my protection I was told by a town resident
with significant State authority. I can just see it now.
Just who is going to oversee Big Brother? Who is going to keep
tabs on the holder of such immense power? Who will oversee the
keepers of our intimate details from abusing us? Do people
really want to live in such a world ? To live in such a country
or state? In such a town? I say, no, they would
not. I do not.
The United States government has already
tried instituting an Information Awareness Office (IAO). The
original mission of the IAO was Total Information Awareness.
This was amended in May of 2003 to be Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA).
John Poindexter, former United States National Security Advisor to
President Ronald Reagan served as the first head of the IAO.
Imagine. This organization was headed by this convicted
felon. The Latin motto of the IAO was, "Scientia est
potentia", or, "In knowledge there is power". The
IAO formerly had a logo with a giant eye on top of a pyramid
shooting death rays onto planet earth. Here's looking at
you! But, who is looking back on them? The IAO logo puts
the IAO and offshoot efforts like it engaged in total people snooping into stark
perspective. Denounced as being far too creepy and at least as creepy
as the people in charge of it, the logo was abandoned. Who
in their right mind would give convicted felon, John Poindexter, unfettered
access to their health and medical records? Ronald Reagan
would! Who would want the Feds to have access to their
purchasing habits, their reading habits, foibles and shortcomings? What Republican or Democratic Congressperson
in their non-fascist mindset would give the government the authority to snoop on everything from
the toothpaste that they buy, to the brand of condoms they use?
Are the Right-wingers actually supporting the government's keeping
track of the frequency of their Viagra prescriptions? What is it about the Fourth Amendment to the
Constitution that people do not understand? Why are people so
willing to negate it?
The right of the people to be secure
in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall
issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.
When I brought up the Fourth Amendment and
the violations thereof by the United States PATRIOT Act at
the impromptu Wells Town Hall Meeting on the Green, I was told that
this (misnamed) Act doesn't allow for searches without warrant.
It merely allows for warrants that are secret, and, secret searches. Excuse me? This is
not Stalinist Russia! At least, not yet. Or, is it? This is the United
States of America. The land of the free. Remember?
In February, 2003, Congress passed legislation ending activities of
the IAO pending a Congressional report of the office's
activities. One would be naive, however, to believe that the
umbrella group that spawned IAO, the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) isn't, as the research website Wikipedia puts
it, leaving "....open the possibility that some or all of the
high-powered software under development might be employed by different
government offices to gather intelligence from U.S. citizens and
others abroad or from foreigners in this country."
Somehow, we are to believe that total
information awareness would offer protection. Protection for
whom? For the corporations and gangsters that have taken over
the United States government, that's who. When the most
sophisticated "intelligence" gathering apparatus in the
history of humankind invades another country (Iraq) because the
intelligence was at best compromised, or at worst deliberately altered
and fabricated, the people have profound reasons to be both suspicious
and afraid that intelligence gathered on them can be just as easily
David Hoffman, legal editor of the
website pravda.us writes in a provocative article where he compares
Bush and Hitler:
There has been little ire expressed
over the fact that anti-war groups across the nation are now being
spied upon by thought police masquerading as "law
enforcement" agencies. And headlines across America
recently announced that the neo-fascist Supreme Court has once again
extended Bush's dictatorial powers, permitting the use of
"secret detentions" in the so-called "war on
terror." It is bitterly ironic and sadly symbolic of how
far America has deteriorated to watch a policy that was once more at
home in apartheid South Africa now become the law of the United
And now, many people intelligent and
educated enough to know better, are approving of going one
better. They are openly advocating and supporting the same
tactics formerly used by the Soviet state through the evolution of its
People’s Commissariat of Domestic Affairs (NKVD) into the Committee
for the State Security (KGB). It all sounds so familiar.
Where this all leads is anybody's guess. The road we are on,
however, is already sullied to such an extent that major United States
institutions, politicians, clergy and public servants are no longer
trusted. As the Constitution further erodes, however, the people
may be so shocked as to institute their own total information
awareness efforts on the government and save the Republic. I'm
not very hopeful. Neither am I hopeless, however, as young
people in their twenties are becoming more involved. As the
young people say, "a new world is possible". Therein,
lies the hope.
never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state
and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the
role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism
has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings
from within... Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the
momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by
propaganda whether it be on FOX news, or on the Town Green. As
for the new Wells Town Hall, perhaps it will be a place where the
townspeople will exercise their responsibilities and freedoms without
being spied upon. I hope so.