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You tell me if I’m just being paranoid.

An Arkansas company with ties to Mochtar Riady, the billionaire
Indonesian and Chinese intelligence agent, has amassed 135 million
consumer telephone numbers — including about 20 million unlisted
numbers — to help identify and profile people who call toll-free lines
to shop or make an inquiry.

The company is called Acxiom Corp. of Conway, Ark. It is partnered with a company called Alltel, previously called Systematics.

Alltel, as I mentioned, was the former name of Systematics and the partner to Acxiom. Alltel was the incarnation of the company that provided the software for the White House’s “Big Brother” data base system, and Systematics was the incarnation of the company when it was behind the administration’s plan to develop the secret computer “Clipper” chip to bug every phone, fax and email transmission in America.

Well, darn, if the Rose Law Firm connection doesn’t still exist with
the company under a new name. The general counsel for Acxiom is
Catherine L. Hughes, 48, a former public defender and assistant state
attorney general who worked at Rose from 1983 through 1988.

Hughes describes herself as something of a civil libertarian, but her
company is a walking, talking, 3,000-man, privacy-invading monster if
ever I have seen one.

When someone makes a toll-free call to a client of Acxiom, a
telemarketing agent can learn who the caller is and where he or she
lives, even before answering the call. The agent can also find out the
kind of home the caller lives in, the type of cars the owners drive,
whether they exercise or own a cat.

This is the kind of thing Acxiom brags about. What the company is
more reticent to share with the public is its means of gathering such
data.

Acxiom executives will not say exactly how they had gathered the 20
million unlisted numbers in their database, which, they claim,
represents about half of all unlisted numbers in the United States. They
are quick to point out there is nothing illegal in gathering such
information.

Currently, Axciom is on an acquisition frenzy — buying up every
database company you can imagine, in the United States and abroad.

Acxiom officials point out with pride that telephone numbers, even
those individuals pay to keep unlisted, are fast becoming consumer tags,
akin to Social Security numbers. Isn’t that exciting news, consumer?

If privacy concerns aren’t enough to worry you with regard to Acxiom,
think about this.

Systematics is a name wrapped up in so many Clinton scandals it would
make your head spin. The company, for instance, obtained clearance to
accompany Ron Brown on foreign trade trips.

In 1996, according to records from the Federal Election Commission,
William Cravens, an old Clinton pal, contributed to both Republican and
Democrat campaigns. In late May 1996, Cravens wrote a check to a
Republican candidate for Congress using Alltel, the renamed Systematics,
as his employer. Three days later, Cravens, the former CEO of
Systematics, wrote a second check for a Democratic senatorial candidate,
this time listing his employer as “Entergy Corp.”

Have you ever seen a company with so many aliases?

The connections to Entergy Corp. again lead back to Indonesia and
Mochtar Riady. In 1994, Ron Brown took a delegation of U.S. businesses
to China. Among the businesses allowed to fly with the Commerce
secretary was Entergy, a U.S. utility company that did business in
Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy later signed a $2
billion dollar deal with the Chinese government and the North China
Power Group to build a 1,200-megawatt power plant in Datong, China.

The Entergy deal was also worth hundreds of millions of dollars to
Entergy’s partner, Riady. In fact, the North China Power Group renamed
the entire project the “Lippo Entergy Datong Power Plant,” giving top
billing to the largest investor and financier from Indonesia.

But wait. This story gets even more bizarre. In January of last year,
I told you how an Arkansas medical examiner had once again concluded
“suicide” in a case where common sense might determine otherwise.

On Nov. 17, 1998, Charles Wilbourne Miller, 63, was found dead of a
gunshot wound to the head in a shallow pit about 300 yards from his
ranch house near Little Rock.

Police found a .410 shotgun near Miller’s body and a Ruger
.357-caliber revolver submerged in water. Investigators concluded the
Ruger was the weapon used by Miller to kill himself. Yet, two rounds in
the handgun’s cylinder had been spent.

Only in Arkansas, I noted, does a suicide victim use two shots — not
to mention two weapons — to kill himself.

Worse yet, Miller was no ordinary citizen of Arkansas. He had long
served as executive vice president and member of the board of directors
for a company called — are you ready? — Alltel. Only recently have
Arkansas officials investigating Miller’s death decided — whoops! –
maybe it wasn’t a suicide after all, just as I had deduced from 2,000
miles away reading news accounts. It’s now being investigated as a
homicide.

Now stay with me. I know this is complicated. But it’s important.
Don’t let your eyes glaze over. This is necessary background to
understanding the nature of the “private” company that has all this
information on you.

Alltel, as I mentioned, was the former name of Systematics and the
predecessor to Acxiom. Alltel was the incarnation of the company that
provided the software for the White House’s “Big Brother” data base
system, and Systematics was the incarnation of the company when it was
behind the administration’s plan to develop the secret computer
“Clipper” chip to bug every phone, fax and email transmission in
America.

There has been at least one other high-profile “suicide” among the
inner circle involved with the “Clipper” chip project — Foster, who, we
now know attended critical NSA planning meetings on the Clipper chip
project, along with then-Associate Attorney General Hubbell, Attorney
General Janet Reno and then-White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum.

It was Stephens’ effort to get Systematics the job of handling the
data processing for the Washington, D.C., First American Bank that led
to the BCCI takeover of the institution. Hillary Clinton and Foster
represented Systematics in that endeavor. Later Foster became an
overseer of NSA’s relationship with Systematics. And later still, he got
dead. No matter what Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr says, his death
has never been explained adequately as a suicide.

Foster’s deep connections to the Whitewater scandal, the Travelgate
scandal, the Filegate scandal and this spying scandal have never been
examined by any of the official probes into his death.

How big and how sensitive was the Clipper chip project? According to
a 1996 report to Vice President Al Gore by former CIA Director John
Deutch, Reno proposed an all-out federal takeover of the computer
industry. The Justice Department proposed legislation that would ban the
import and domestic manufacture, sale or distribution of encryption that
did not have key recovery.

Prime targets for monitoring would be foreign governments, banks,
corporations, and individuals opposing the Clinton administration. The
keys were to be held by “key recovery agents” licensed by the Commerce
Department. Key recovery is a government back-door system designed to
secretly monitor computers.

Now, I know what some of you are going to say: “Conspiracy theorist.”
Well, la di da. I haven’t woven any conspiracy theories, folks. All I’ve
given you here are the facts — facts that have been conveniently
ignored by every other news agency in the world.

What does it mean? I’m not certain. But I hope you find it as
interesting — and frightening — as I do.

Some overriding questions leap to my mind: Did Acxiom or Alltell or
Systematics or whatever you want to call it gain access to this
overwhelming amount of data on the public through its cozy, some might
say “incestuous” relationship with the Clinton administration? Was this
a way of outsourcing the government’s Big Brother plans? Was this a way
for Clinton pals to receive personal benefit from their public
contracts?

Unfortunately, I don’t think Janet Reno’s Justice Department will be
examining that question any time soon.

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