Attorney General Janet Reno, who brought you Waco, has a new plan to
protect the federal government from the people.
She wants the FBI to have the authority to break into the homes of
those suspected of encrypting information on their computers, steal
their hard drives and leave permanent bugging equipment behind. I’m not
kidding. That’s the latest Big Brother snooping plan from the Department
What’s most interesting about this proposal is not that it represents
any significant breakthrough in the government’s ability to snoop on you
or me. The fact of the matter is that the FBI has the means and motive
to accomplish such monitoring activities without entering our homes.
The audacity of this proposal is that it would permit the government
to snoop not on a few select individuals but on a massive number of
citizens at bargain-basement costs “just in case” they might be up to
You see, for a long time the technology has existed to pick up
computer screen images and CPU and data transfers from as much as a mile
away from the target using the radiated RF energy generated by a normal
PC. The only problem, from the government’s point of view, with such
procedures is that they require a van, personnel, man-hours and about
$15,000 worth of equipment.
The easiest and cheapest way to do long-term surveillance on
suspected “troublemakers” is to break into the home or office, copy the
hard drive with the encrypted data, replace the keyboard connector with
a radio transmitter and wait to capture the keystrokes with the help of
a simple receiver with solid state storage in a telephone box or
The total equipment cost, according to one friendly hacker, would be
less than $150. This is obviously a much cheaper method than continuous
monitoring, which easily starts at $100,000 for a typical wiretap and
So, you see, this plan is not intended, as Reno and the FBI would
suggest, to help them monitor the activities of potential terrorists or
drug kingpins. They already have the means to accomplish that. This is a
plan to broaden its surveillance on you, me and everyone else concerned
enough about privacy to use some form of encryption on
The first assumption of this crowd in Washington is that people who
attempt to protect their privacy must have something to hide. Their
second assumption is that if they have something to hide, it is the
government’s right and duty to find out about it.
This is about power — the power to intimidate, the power to monitor,
the power to read our very thoughts.
I don’t know how any intelligent observer could watch this renegade
government in Washington without concluding that it is making big plans
for massive population control. We’re on the verge of a great leap into
authoritarianism. America is not that far from totalitarianism. Fascism
is just an emergency or two away.
There are so many of these Big Brother eavesdropping and surveillance
proposals coming down on us that it is nearly impossible to keep track
of them, let alone mobilize opposition. I believe this is part of a
deliberate strategy to overwhelm and demoralize those of us who are
aware enough to fight back.
Think about it. You know how effective the “scandal fatigue” strategy
has been. So many have given up. So many have lost track. So many have
lost interest. So many have missed the point. We’ve been overwhelmed
with corruption so thick, you can’t see the forest for the trees.
The same is true with corrupt policies designed to curtail our
freedom. Perhaps we will be successful at beating back one or two. But
when they are coming at us by the dozens, what are the chances we as a
people can preserve our freedom?
So what hope is there for us? The only hope is to land a stunning
blow to the forces of creeping fascism. The architects of such plans,
not just the plans themselves, must be laid low.