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Home > War On Terror

Homeland Watch #3

The more we know about you the safer you are...


23 October 2003

Enter the Matrix.

Short for: Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. Now, you’re probably thinking: “Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange” should more accurately be shortened to MATIE – but let's face it, Matie sounds like a bath foam for toddlers, not something cool and high-tech like a 4th generation fact nexus, or whatever this thing is. So they jiggled a few letters and called it The Matrix. I think they can be forgiven the liberty.

And that's about all they can be forgiven.

The Matrix system, which is being developed in Florida - that hotbed of democracy - enables investigators to find patterns and links among people and events faster than ever before, combining police records with commercially available collections of personal information about most American adults.

The system is being developed by a company called Seisint, which was founded by Hank Asher.

Hank Asher?

- a former drug smuggler turned millionaire. Hank Asher, 48, a computer technology expert who lives in a $3-million Boca Raton house, has founded several companies that retrieve huge amounts of electronic information about individuals.

Ah, that Hank Asher.

Here's Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, on the subject of Hank Asher:

"...Database Technologies, his old company, is the organization that came up with the list now up to 97,000 names of supposed felons in Florida who are scrubbed off the voter roles before the presidential election; it turns out almost every name on that list was an innocent person, they were named as felons by this company, by Hank Asher's company, named as felons, they weren't felons, they lost their vote and, surprise, most of them were African Americans. And that fixed our election.

Hank is back. Now Hank was thrown off the board of the company he founded by the U.S. Drug enforcement agency. Because of his connections to Bahamian drug dealers... So here he is back with a different costume on. And up to the same tricks... jumping on the September 11th war on terror bandwagon see if he can suck a few bucks out...

Of all the people on this planet, to put in charge of minding these very sensitive databases about who is a terrorist and who isn't, I mean Hank Asher would be at the bottom of my list. It's true, he's above Osama, maybe, but not far."

It's a simple enough equation: Homeland Security = information control = electoral control. Fortunately, democracy has a few punches still left in it. Here's the son of Martin Luther King, talking on CNN:

I think we have got to do a better job explaining to people why their vote does count. I think people feel disconnected from some of their elected officials, as well as the system, because sometimes it is very complicated. That's why we're engaged for the next 15 months in a voter-education and voter-registration campaign. Voter education with registration will create voter participation. We have seen the hip-hop community, with Russell Simmons, registering people. Just the other day in Philadelphia, he registered 10,000 young people.

More young black people voting? Hmmm. This is a problem. I guess what we need is a slightly wider definition of 'terrorist'... Hank? Could you just shift those parameters for us? Thanks Hank.

Now, there has been a fair bit of public outcry about Asher's Matrix system, and it is interesting to see that the US Government isn't totally ignoring this massive abuse of personal privacy (with access being granted - for big bucks - to a vast reservoir of unverifiable personal information). No Sir. They have just invested $12million to help expand the project.


Note: Russell Simmons (co-founded of Def Jam) is also defending chickens against KFC. Busy fellow.

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