Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING EV

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Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING EVERYONE By Hillel Cohen Ever get the feeling that someone's watching you? Better get used to it. Because the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars and getting ready to spend billions more not only to watch you, but to read your mail and listen to your phone calls. Washington may have no reason to focus on you right now, so just in case, it's making preparations to snoop on everyone. This snooping didn't just start, but now the so-called information revolution has prompted the government to launch a snooping counter-revolution. In suburban Virginia, just a 20-minute drive from Washington, one of the biggest construction projects in the country has turned out to be the new housing complex for a secret government agency. This agency is so secret that for over 30 years even its name was "Top Secret." Most people know that both the Pentagon and the CIA's giant Langley, Va., headquarters occupy substantial pieces of suburban Virginia real estate to coordinate their dirty work. Now the National Reconnaissance Office, controlled jointly by the Pentagon and the CIA, has come to light. Until two years ago, the NRO itself was a secret to members of Congress. The $350-million building was supposedly unknown to members of the Senate Intelligence Committees--who are supposed to monitor these things--and even President Bill Clinton. THE NRO'S ROLE The NRO is in charge of the many U.S. secret reconnaissance satellites. They photograph, eavesdrop and otherwise spy on people, places and things in every country of the world. The New York Times estimates the NRO budget--also a secret--at about $6 billion. That's three times the entire State Department budget. The combined budgets of the alphabet soup of U.S. "intelligence" agencies--CIA, NSA, DIA, NRO, etc.--may be about $28 billion but the exact amounts are hidden in the Pentagon budget. The Clinton administration opposed a bill that would have made these budgets public. The bill was defeated. The $28-billion figure doesn't cover domestic spying operations carried out by the FBI and the various state and local police agencies. Nor does it include private corporate concerns engaged in industrial espionage and surveillance of workers. TV AND CABLE SPYING While the NRO building is now in the spotlight, another, quieter debate is going on. The FBI and the Clinton administration have introduced a bill in Congress to require the telephone and cable television companies to change their networks to make it easier for the government to wire-tap or trace any call now or in the future. The administration wants to allocate $500 million to give to these monopolies to make the technical changes. Communications companies like AT&T oppose the bill. They are afraid that $500 million is only just enough to trace or tap calls made via call-forwarding. Cable television may be targeted in the same bill; home shopping and other two-way, interactive services may soon be available through cable and the FBI wants access to that as well. Electronic mail and online computer services may be also be added. This is related to another controversy. This one is between the National Security Agency, which spies on domestic and international communications, and the computer industry. The NSA is insisting that all computers use a so-called "clipper chip" that would allow the government to have an electronic master key to break any code and spy on any communication. The NSA wants a law to force the computer industry to use "clipper," not only in the U.S. but in all computers sold overseas. Then there is private spying. A survey of 301 U.S. businesses, recently reported by the United Nations International Labor Organization found that as many as 20 million workers in the U.S. are electronically monitored on the job. According to the report, companies search employee electronic mail, network mail and voice mail. This doesn't even count other electronic surveillance of work performance--such as secretly counting key strokes of computer operators, listening in on the conversations of telephone and telemarketing workers, and placing hidden video cameras in the work place. This gigantic spying apparatus suggests that every worker, even every person, is under suspicion. The government and the corporate bosses must realize that they are not so popular-- so they spend billions to keep an eye on the population. -30- (Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@blythe.org.)

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