Who May Be Spying on You ... and Why?
From 1920 to 1933, Henry L. Stimson was secretary of state in the Hoover administration. In 1929, he closed down the State’s cryptanalytic office and his quote about gentlemen not reading each other’s mail became famous. Fortunately he changed his mind when he headed the War Department under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Had the United States not broken the Japanese code in the early years of World War II, tens of thousands of American lives would have been lost. The same is true for the Brits intercepting German radio traffic with the now-famous Enigma machines at Bletchley Park.
Down deep inside, I agree with Stimson; snooping on people gives me the creepy-crawlies.
Yet, in business and in war, it’s essential.
The Culture of Distrust
The news recently has been rife with stories of snooping by corporations, private individuals and the federal government:
* In her new memoir to be published this week, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina describes her angst when private discussions with board members turned up in the media. “It is hard to convey how violated I felt,” she wrote. Subsequent to Fiorina’s firing in February 2005, leaks continued. Hewlett-Packard board Chairman Patricia Dunn allegedly contacted private detectives to find the leakers. Last week, Dunn and four others—including three outside investigators—were indicted attempting to obtain the phone records of Hewlett-Packard directors suspected of revealing confidential information to the press.
* New York State Republican candidate for attorney general, Jeanine Pirro, is being investigated for possibly hiring former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to illegally tape conversations of her husband whom she suspected of having an affair. The brouhaha isn’t helpful to Pirro’s campaign to become New York state’s chief law enforcement officer.
* This past February, celebrity Hollywood attorney Terry Christensen was indicted for conspiring with private detective Anthony (the Pelican) Pellicano for wiretapping the conversations of billionaire MGM boss Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife.