Quiz on Homeland Security

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William Rivers Pitt 
t r u t h o u t | Perspective Sunday, 1 December, 2002


Question One: Do you approve of the new Homeland Security Department, signed into law by President Bush?

Background: On November 25th, 2002, President Bush signed into law legislation that created a new Homeland Security Department. Called for in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, this new department will merge 22 different government agencies and over 170,000 government employees into one unit. The stated purpose of the new Homeland Security Department is to defend America against future terrorist attacks.

Question Two: Do you approve of the creation of a 'Total Information Awareness' database by the Department of Defense that will track a wide variety of data regarding every American citizen?

Background: The 'Total Information Awareness' database is the brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research and development core of the Department of Defense. The database will gather data regarding credit card purchases, telephone calls made, websites visited, academic grades received, surveys taken, sweepstakes entered, property purchased, financial records, magazine subscriptions, medical procedures and so forth. The data will reveal not only shopping habits but an overall picture of personal lifestyle, including everything from pets owned to religious preferences. Every American will be subject to its scrutiny. It will be run by Admiral John Poindexter, who was criminally convicted in 1990 for lying to Congress, destroying official documents and obstruction of justice in the Iran/Contra scandal.

Question Three: Do you believe that citizens should be allowed to sue in civil court the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Corporation for the production of products which cause autism in children?

Background: For more than 40 years, the Eli Lilly Corporation developed and sold a mercury-based preservative used in many vaccines against childhood diseases. The preservative, called thimerosal, has been linked to the development of autism in children exposed to it. 45 lawsuits have already been filed by parents against Eli Lilly. These lawsuits seek to establish Eli Lilly's liability regarding the development of autism in these children.

Question Four: Do you approve of the Freedom of Information Act?

Background: The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed in 1966 to allow public access to records and documents created by federal agencies. Since its passage, all fifty states have passed their own versions of the FOIA. The Supreme Court, in a case entitled NLRB v. Robbins Tire Co. in 1978, spoke of the importance of the Act: "The basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry, vital to the functioning of a democratic society, needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed."

Question Five: Do you approve of an investigation into the attacks of September 11, 2001?

Background: On September 11th, 2001, four commercial airliners were hijacked by terrorists. Two were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing the Towers to collapse. A third was piloted into the Pentagon in Washington DC, and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Close to 3,000 people perished in these attacks. In the nearly 500 days since, little has come to light regarding how American intelligence agencies failed to perceive the threat. None of the perpetrators who planned the attacks have been apprehended, including the mastermind, Osama bin Laden. The manner in which these terrorists were funded has likewise gone unexplored, as have many other pressing questions. A thorough investigation will serve to reveal the information behind these questions and take a large step towards ensuring that such an attack can never happen again.

Question Six: Did you know that the 'Total Information Awareness' database, under the stewardship of Admiral Poindexter and the Department of Defense, is an integral part of the new Homeland Security legislation, and will begin mining for data soon?

Question Seven: Did you know that the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Corporation was granted immunity from lawsuit and liability regarding the autism allegations in the new Homeland Security legislation, because they are under contract to produce bioweapons vaccines for the federal government?

Question Eight: Did you know that the Freedom of Information Act has been severely curtailed by the new Homeland Security legislation, because public data on the actions of federal agencies is now considered a "potential security weakness?"

Question Nine: Did you know that, thanks to new restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act which will be decided upon on a case by case basis by the same department that manages the Total Information Awareness database, an effective investigation into what happened on September 11th, 2001 is now a practical impossibility?

Question Ten: Do you approve of the new Homeland Security Department, signed into law by President Bush?

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