Please. Or Else, by Art Buchwald December 19,
Call it what you will --
Big Brother, George Orwell, Super Anti-Terrorism -- the Pentagon still wants to
spy on you. The program called "Total Information Awareness" is being
conducted to find out how much personal information the government can learn
about every American citizen.
The head of the program is
John Poindexter, who was found guilty during the Reagan administration of lying
to Congress, destroying official documents and obstructing justice in the
Iran-contra scandal. He was found guilty but his sentence was overturned and so
the Pentagon decided he was the best man for the TIA job.
How will this affect you,
dear reader? If the data retrieval bureau succeeds, the government will know
everything about you.
I can see next Christmas
when the TIA has collected all its information.
The scene is Santa Claus
Land in the Halldale Department Store in Minneapolis. The action is being
monitored in the basement of the Pentagon by Gen. Sleuth, Col. Ripper and Navy
Cmdr. Ruth, the highest-ranking woman in the TIA program.
"What have we got on
Santa Claus?" Gen. Sleuth asks.
Col. Ripper goes to his
computer. "He was married three times and his last wife recently left him.
He likes bourbon, which he keeps in his sack next to him. This is the only job
he could get because he is over 50. When he has money he spends it on a steak
and French fries."
Gen. Sleuth asks, "But
is he a terrorist or not?"
Ripper hits a button.
"Let's see what happens when he talks to a kid."
Santa says, "Ho, ho, ho. And
what is your name?"
"Butch. What is your
name?" the kid asks.
Santa's blood pressure
goes up and he looks like he wants to throttle the kid.
"Now what do you want
"A video game called 'Blowing Up the World.' "
Cmdr. Ruth says,
"Butch isn't kidding. For his birthday he asked for 'Weapons of Mass
Destruction, Upgraded.' "
Santa asks, "Have you
been a good boy or a bad boy?"
"I can go either
The commander says, "The
computer says he locked his sister in the closet for two hours last week and
tried to put her cat in the microwave oven."
The general says, "Have
the Minnesota National Guard check him out. We're making progress. By next year
we will have data on everyone in America."
The colonel says, "I
have a suggestion. Why don't we sell our database to the department stores,
mail-order houses and magazine subscription departments? They'll pay anything to
know what goes on in the minds of their potential customers. In that way we can
not only find terrorists but we can also make a profit."
Gen. Sleuth agrees:
"Good idea. Let's run it up the privacy flagpole and see who salutes."