[Mb-civic] Don't Look at the Flash

Barbara Siomos barbarasiomos38 at webtv.net
Fri Sep 10 15:12:56 PDT 2004

Not sure if this got posted to everyone on Civic, so to make sure here
September 8, 2004
by Greg Palast

On September 11, 2001, we Americans were the victims of a terrible

By September 12, we became the suspects. Not
one single U.S. citizen hijacked a plane, yet
President Bush and Attorney General John
Ashcroft, through powers seized and codified in the
USA PATRIOT Act, fingered 270 million of us for
surveillance, for searches, for tracking, for watching.

And who was going to play Anti-Santa, watching to
see when we've been good or bad?  A guy named
Derek Smith. And that made September 11, 2001
Derek's lucky day.
Even before the spying work could begin, there were all those pieces of
people to collect - tubes
marked "DM" (for "Disaster Manhattan") - from which his company,
ChoicePoint Inc, would extract
DNA for victim identification, work for which the firm
would receive $12 million from New York City's
Maybe Smith, like the rest of us, grieved at the
murder of innocent friends and countrymen. As for
the 12-million-dollar corpse identification fee, that's
chump change to the $4 billion corporation Smith had founded only four
years earlier in Alpharetta,
Georgia. Nevertheless, for Smith's ChoicePoint Inc.,
Ground Zero would become a profit center lined with gold.
As the towers fell, ChoicePoint's stock rose; and
from Ground Zero, contracts gushed forth from War
on Terror fever.  Why? Because this outfit is holding
no less 16 billion records on every living and dying
being in the USA.  They're the Little Brother with the filing system
when Big Brother calls.

ChoicePoint's quick route to no-bid spy contracts was not impeded by the
fact that the company did
something for George W. Bush that the voters would not: select him as
our president. Here's how
they did it. Before the 2000 election, ChoicePoint unit Database
Technologies, held a $4 million
no-bid contract under the control of Florida
Secretary of State Katherine Harris, to identify
felons who had illegally registered to vote. The
ChoicePoint outfit altogether fingered 94,000
Florida residents. As it turned out, less than 3,000
had a verifiable criminal record; almost everyone on
the list had the right to vote.
The tens of thousands of "purged" citizens had
something in common besides their innocence: The
list was, in the majority, made up of African
Americans and Hispanics, overwhelmingly Democratic voters whose only
crime was V.W.B:
Voting While Black.   And that little ethnic cleansing
operation, conducted by Governor Jeb Bush's gang
with ChoicePoint's aid, determined the race in
which Harris named Bush the winner by 537 votes.

To say that ChoicePoint is in the "data" business is
utterly to miss their market concept: These guys are
in the Fear Industry. Secret danger lurks  everywhere. Al Qaeda's just
the tip of the iceberg.
What about the pizza delivery boy? ChoicePoint
hunted through a sampling of them and announced
that 25 percent had only recently come out of prison. "What pizza do you
like?" asks CEO Smith.
"At what price? Are you willing to take the risk?..."

War fever opened up a whole new market for the
Fear Industry. And now Mr. Smith wants your blood.  ChoicePoint is the
biggest supplier
of DNA to the FBI's "CODIS" system.  And, one
company insider whispered to me, "Derek [Smith]
told me that it is his hope to build a database of
DNA samples from every person in the United
States." For now, Smith keeps this scheme under
wraps, fearing "resistance" from the public.  Instead, Smith pushes
"ChoicePoint Cares" - taking DNA
samples to hunt for those missing kids on milk
cartons.  It's for, "the mothers of this country who
are wrestling with threats" - you know, the pizza guy
from Al Queda, the cult kidnappers.   

In other words, ChoicePoint's real product, like our
President's, is panic. In Hollywood, Jack Nicholson
picked up the zeitgeist: "If I were an Arab American
I would insist on being profiled. This is not the time
for civil rights." Maybe Jack's right: screw rights, we
want safety. But wait, Jack.  We're both old farts
who can remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1962, the Russians were
going to drop The Big One
on us. But we didn't have to worry, Mrs. Gordon told
us, if we just got under the desk, covered our necks.
And she'd warned, it will all be OK as long as we,
"Don't look at the flash!"

ChoicePoint's Smith admonishes that, if we‚d only
had his databases humming at the airports on
September 11, the hijackers, who used their own
names, would have been barred from boarding.
However, experts inform me that Osama no longer
checks in as "Mr. bin Laden," even at the cost of
losing his frequent flyer miles.

ChoicePoint's miles of files, the FBI's CODIS system, taking off your
shoes at the airport, Code
Purple days, the whole new Star-Spangled KGB'ing
of America is the new "Duck and Cover."

Thank you, ChoicePoint.  Thank you, Mr. Ashcroft.
Thank you, Mr. Bush. We're safe now, as long as we don't look at the

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times
bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy"
and "Joker's Wild: Dubya's Trick Deck" -
investigative regime change cards from Seven
Stories Press. All are available here:
This month, Palast will release, "Bush Family
Fortunes," the film based on his investigative
reports for BBC television.  View a 2-minute preview

Sign up for Greg Palast's investigative reports at

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