Who May Be Spying on You … and Why?

‘Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.’—Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, 1929

* In “The Man Who Made the Twenties Roar,” a biography of the early 20th-century Andrew Mellon, which was published this week, David Cannadine describes how the enormously wealthy entrepreneur in his 40s married a woman in her early twenties. Their sensational divorce, gleefully covered in the tabloids for two years, included accounts of Mellon accusing his wife of infidelity and her countercharges that he hired private detectives and used listening devices to catch her, ultimately to no avail.

* On Dec. 16, 2005, The New York Times revealed that “months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States … without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

On Dec. 30, 2005, The Washington Post told of a vast new surveillance program, GST, authorized by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks to “give the CIA enhanced ability to mine international financial records and eavesdrop on suspects anywhere in the world.” In addition, the phone records of millions of Americans are being monitored, and suspicious mail to and from overseas destinations is being opened by Homeland Security.

Government Surveillance
Recently on National Public Radio an expert on the Middle East estimated that 25 percent of the world’s Muslims—or approximately 300 million people—would like to see serious harm come to the United States and a high percentage would be willing to become martyrs in the cause.

The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the car bomb exploding in the World Trade Center garage in 1993, the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa, the assault on the USS Cole in 2000 and calamitous Sept. 11 tragedy all prove that these people mean business.

This is war. In World War II we lived through suspension of certain civil liberties for the duration. Put another way, if various government agencies were NOT monitoring phone records and conversations, financial transactions and questionable e-mail and snail mail, I would be worried.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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