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An e-mail chain letter suggests Secretary of State Colin Powell inadvertently admitted on “Fox News Sunday” that the Social Security system is designed to “monitor, track down and capture” American citizens.
But the e-mail, making the rounds of in-boxes around the world for the last two months, is untrue – the latest “urban legend” spread at the speed of light to untold thousands through cyberspace.
WorldNetDaily editors have received hundreds of versions of the e-mail since Powell’s appearance on the “Fox News Sunday” program June 17. While Powell did appear on the show, his words have been twisted – either deliberately or through a misinterpretation.
As with most such e-mail hoaxes, the message typically calls upon readers to “pass this on to everyone that you know.” And, indeed, people seem to be doing just that.
“I was watching ‘Fox News Sunday’ this morning, 06/17/01, being hosted in the first segment by Tony Snow,” begins the standard message on Powell’s TV appearance. “The lead-off guest was Colin Powell, the U.S. secretary of state. Mr. Powell gave an excellent recitation relevant to foreign affairs matters.”
The message goes on to suggest that Powell was confident and spoke without hesitation throughout the entire interview, excluding a short segment involving a discussion of Russian nuclear proliferation and missing nuclear materials and scientists.
“The quote from Mr. Powell, per the Russian scientists that every American NEEDS to hear immediately is as follows: ‘Finding the Russian scientists may be a problem being that Russia does not have a Social Security System, as here in America, that allows us to MONITOR, TRACK DOWN and CAPTURE an American citizen.'”
Trouble is, the statement, though resembling one uttered by Powell, is not accurate – not even close. Here’s how the exchange with Snow actually went, according to the official transcript released by the show.
Snow: “So we really don’t know where these materials or even scientists are right now?”
Powell: “Well, no, we don’t exactly have a social security system that captures every Russian scientist, but this is something that is of concern to us and should be of concern to Russia as well.”
That’s it. No suggestion that the U.S. Social Security system was actually designed to monitor, track down or capture Americans.
Yet, the latest Internet hoax goes on to suggest there is great significance to Powell’s alleged slip of the tongue.
“The significance of Mr. Powell’s statement is profound, and essential to be heard by all in this country,” one version reads. “I thank Mr. Powell for inadvertently being honest towards the underlying intent of the U.S. government, reaffirmed by his admission.”
There seems to be no limit to the hunger for such cyber-legends. Last February, WorldNetDaily exposed as a fraud a persistent e-mail spreading the false news of a “Klingerman virus” that supposedly reaches its victims through the U.S. Postal Service.
Last November, there was the rumor that consumers could be charged $2,425 per minute for dialing numbers in the 809 area code.
And in October, the Internet rumor mill hit something of a crescendo when both New York U.S. Senate candidates –Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio – and the moderator of their debate fell for a long-running e-mail hoax. Well into the debate, WCBS-TV political reporter Marcia Kramer turned to Clinton to get her reaction to what she described as a bill that would let the U.S. Postal Service charge a 5-cent tax on e-mail.
“I’d like to ask you how you stand on federal Bill 602P,” Kramer said. “Under the bill that’s now before Congress, the U.S. Postal Service would be able to bill e-mail users 5 cents for every e-mail they send, even though the Post Office provides no service.”