Big Brother '90's style
Wed, 18 Feb 1998 13:27:08 -0700

A scary reminder that we need to do what we can to either keep
technological advances out of terrocrats' hands, or ensure that individuals
can keep pace with and counteract governments' use of technology.

Dick Gray
---------------------- Forwarded by Dick Gray/US/BULL on 02/18/98 01:26 PM

"Dick Gray" <> on 02/18/98 06:50:26 AM

To: Dick Gray/US/BULL
Subject: Big Brother '90's style

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
For release: February 16, 1998
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222

Do you have any privacy left when Big Brother
can spy on you from space -- or through your walls?
WASHINGTON, DC -- Spy satellites. Gamma ray scanners.
Thermal-imaging devices.
It's not science fiction -- it's a list of the exotic,
high-tech surveillance equipment the government now uses to monitor,
track, and arrest American citizens, the Libertarian Party pointed out
"Yesterday's science fiction has become today's political
reality," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national chairman. "High-tech
military equipment that was once used against foreign armies is now
being used against American citizens on a routine basis."
As a result, the Fourth Amendment's protection against
"unreasonable search" is under technological siege, he warned -- and
government agencies are rushing to take advantage of this new power.
"Most people don't realize it, but law enforcement agencies are
now spying on us through the walls of our houses, taking
high-resolution photographs of us from space, and conducting drug tests
based on trace elements of chemicals in the air," said Dasbach.
Paranoid fantasy? Not at all: Such high-tech surveillance
equipment is becoming an increasingly common tool for law enforcement,
according to reports in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
Here's a sampling of how state and federal agencies are using
this terrifying technology to spy on Americans:
* In North Carolina, county governments use high-resolution spy
satellite photographs to search for property improvements that might
increase property tax assessments.
* On the Mexican border, police use a "gamma ray scanner" to
check tanker trucks for contraband, scanning right through the
vehicle's metal sides.
* The Naval Surface Warfare Center has developed an "ion
sniffer," a metal box that analyzes the chemical makeup of the air --
and can detect, for example, traces of cocaine through the skin days
after drug use.
* In Georgia, the state's Department of Revenue will start
using NASA satellites to examine the state's 58,910 square miles for
illegal timber cutting.
* In New Jersey, California, and other states, police use
thermal imaging devices to scan houses for unusual heat sources that
could indicate indoor marijuana growing operations. Houses can be
scanned while police sit in their cruisers on the street.
* And in Arizona, the state's Department of Water Resources
uses spy satellite photographs to monitor 750,000 acres of state
farmland, and compares the images to a database to discover which
farmers don't have irrigation permits.
Even worse: The federal government will spend another $4.5
million this year to develop even more intrusive surveillance
Currently under development by the Justice Department: A "super
x-ray" -- combining traditional x-ray technology, ultra-sound imaging,
and computer-aided metal detectors -- to reveal items hidden under
clothes from up to 60 feet away.
The courts are currently wrestling with the implications of the
new technology, debating the limits of the government's power to
"search" individuals from a distance with high-tech gadgets. Several
contradictory court decisions have already emerged, for example, about
whether thermal-imaging searches are Constitutional.
Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic politicians continue to
look for new uses of the technology -- with some government officials
already talking about using satellite surveillance to track items as
small as backyard porches to check for zoning violations and
construction permits.
"In the name of fighting crime, politicians seem eager to
obliterate the protections against unreasonable search, with equipment
that Americans used to only read about in Tom Clancy technothrillers,"
said Dasbach. "It's time for the American public to wake up and realize
that Big Brother is here today -- and he's got a gamma ray scanner in
his hand."

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