the U.S. National Security Agency, ECHELON allows spy agencies to monitor most of the world’s telephone, e-mail, and telex communications. Unlike many of the Cold War electronic spy systems, ECHELON is designed primarily to gather electronic transmissions from nonmilitary targets: governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals in virtually every country. Hager blew the lid off ECHELON after more than fifty New Zealand intelligence veterans concerned about the potential abuses of such a system risked their careers and agreed to talk to him. 5.U.S. companies are world leaders in manufacture of torture devices: Anne-Marie Cusac, “Shock Value: U.S. Stun Devices Pose Human-Rights Risk,” The Progressive, September 1997. In its March 1997 report “Recent Cases of the Use of Electroshock Weapons for Torture or Ill-Treatment,” Amnesty International listed 100 companies that manufactured push-button electroshock devices. Forty-two were based in the United States. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty claim the devices are unsafe and may encourage sadistic acts by police officers and prison guards, Anne-Marie Cusac reported. Countries that have received stun weapons exported AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL LISTED 100 from the United COMPANIES THAT MANUFACTURED States in the last PUSH-BUTTON ELECTROSHOCK decade include DEVICES. FORTY-TWO WERE BASED IN Yemen, Panama, THE UNITED STATES. Saudi Arabia, Mex ico, Argentina, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and Ecuador. “Stun belts offer enormous possibilities for abuse and the infliction of gratuitous pain,” Jenni Gainsborough of the ACLU’s National Prison Project told The Progressive. 6.Russian plutonium lost over Chile and Bolivia: Karl Grossman, “Space Probe Explodes, Plutonium Missing,” Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 1997. On November 17, 1996, when the U.S. Space Command announced that Russia’s Mars ’96 space probe, carrying a half-pound of deadly plutonium, would crash-land in Australia, President Clinton and the mass media responded immediately. Clinton phoned Australian prime minister John Howard and offered “the assets the U.S. has in the Department of Energy” to deal with any radioactive contamination. Later that day the U.S. Space Command revised its account and mistakenly announced the probe had fallen into the Pacific. In fact, a number of U.S. media outlets reported the probe had crashed “harmlessly” into the ocean. On November 29, eleven days later, the U.S. Space. Command changed its mind yet again: “It changed not only where but also when the probe fell -not off South America but on Chile and Bolivia and not on November 19 but the night before,” Grossman reports. This time, there were no calls from the President, and the U.S. government did little to help locate and recover the radioactive canisters. “You can clearly see the double standard,” a Houston aerospace engineer told CAQ. “Australia got a phone call from Clinton; Chile got a two-week-old fax from somebody.” The New York Times buried the story in its World News Brief section, while some sus pected that NASA didn’t want too much attention paid to the crash because it might have affected the agency’s already controversial plan to load a record 72.3 pounds of plutonium on its Cassini probe, which it launched in October 1997. 7.Norplant and human experiments in Third World lead to forced use in United States: Jennifer Washburn, “The Misuses of Norplant: Who Gets Stuck?” Ms., November-December 1996; Rebecca Kavoussi, “Norplant and the Dark Side of the Law,” Washington Free Press, March-April 1997; Joseph D’ Agostino, “BBC Documentary Claims that U.S. Foreign Aid Funded Norplant Testing on Uninformed Third World Women,” Human Events, May 16, 1997. Low-income women in the United States and the Third World have been unwitting targets of a U.S. policy to control birth rates through the use of the drug implant Norplant, according to three stories identified by Project Censored. Human Events reports that a 1995 BBC documentary accused the U.S. Agency for International Bangladesh, Haiti, and the Philippines to test Norplant’s effectiveness. Norplant, a synthetic version of a female hormone, is intended to prevent pregnancy for five years. It has been linked with debilitating side effects, and the implant can only be removed through surgery at a cost far beyond the reach of low-income women. In the United States, as Jennifer Washburn discovered, state Medicaid agencies often cover the cost of Norplant insertion but don’t cover removal before the full five years. Although Medicaid policy may cover early removal when it is determined to be “medically necessary,” medical necessity is determined by the provider and the Medicaid agency, not the patient. “Most people in this country probably believe that reproductive coercion is a thing of the past,” Washburn wrote in an update to her story that was provided to Project Censored. “But as my article demonstrates, there are innumerable ways that coercion continues in America.” Norplant’s side effects have led to the filing of more than 400 lawsuits representing more than 50,000 women against Wyeth-Ayerst, the maker of Norplant. 8.Little-known law paves way for national I.D. card: Cyndee Parker, “National I.D. Card Is Now Federal Law and Georgia Wants to Help to Lead the Way,” Witwigo, May-June 1997. We can thank California Senator Dianne Feinstein for this scandal. According to Cyndee Parker, Feinstein wrote the law that creates a framework for establishing a national identification-card system. The law, buried in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996, established a “Machine Readable Document Pilot Program.” Under the proposed system, according to Parker, the driver’s license would become a national I.D. card. Employers would have document readers that would be linked to the federal Social Security Administration. When a prospective employee’s driver’s license was passed through the reader, the federal government would have the discretion to approve or reject the applicant for employment. Parker reported that Feinstein told Capitol Hill magazine that it See “Censored,” page 19 APRIL 24, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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