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We all know that truth is stranger than fiction, and here we have an apparently real item straight from the realm of Tom Clancy. Imagine a huge, absolutely huge, central database containing both the official and commercial data of every single citizen, run by the US military ostensibly for anti-terror and Homeland Security purposes, and all of it under the direction of a convicted felon.

Well the database is in development and coming soon, according to the New York Times; and the felon who will run it is disgraced Reagan administration liar, dirty-trickster and cover-uper Admiral John M. Poindexter, who Dubya has taken out of mothballs to keep us all safe from dreadful evildoers.

Poindexter got caught up in a little Federal crime spree called Iran-Contra a decade ago, stood trial and was convicted, but managed to escape responsibility on an odd technicality.

As told succinctly by FAS.org, Poindexter was "Indicted March 16, 1988, on seven felony charges. After standing trial on five charges, Poindexter was found guilty April 7, 1990, on all counts: conspiracy (obstruction of inquiries and proceedings, false statements, falsification, destruction and removal of documents); two counts of obstruction of Congress and two counts of false statements.

District Judge Harold H. Greene sentenced Poindexter June 11, 1990, to six months in prison on each count, to be served concurrently. A three-judge appeals panel on November 15, 1991, reversed the convictions on the ground that Poindexter's immunized testimony may have influenced the trial testimony of witnesses. The Supreme Court on December 7, 1992, declined to review the case. In 1993, the indictment was dismissed on the motion of Independent Counsel."

Now he's in charge of the newly-invented Information Awareness Office, a part of that mixed bag of good and bad, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and he's got his eye on basically every scrap of data about every single citizen. The system Poindy is preparing to unleash on us "will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant," the NYT article says.

And he's in no way embarrassed by his role ensuring that the US military and federal law enforcement and intelligence spooks can quite conveniently spy on the populace. He's said openly that the US government "needs to 'break down the stovepipes' that separate commercial and government databases," the article says.

Poindexter joins a slew of Reagan-era retreads and Iran-Contra alumni now operating brazenly in Dubya's bureaucracy. No doubt he feels quite comfortable among such familiar company, though I doubt I could say the same for the rest of us. ®

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