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"The International Poindextering of Poindexter": Electronic Activists Publish the Total Information Awareness Director's Home Phone Number and Satellite Photos of His House

StoryDecember 17, 2002
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The head of the government’s Total Information Awareness project, which aims to track credit-card, travel, medical, school and other records of everyone in the United States, has himself become a target of personal data profiling.

According to a recent article in Wired.com, online pranksters, taking their lead from a San Francisco journalist, are publishing John Poindexter’s home phone number, photos of his house and other personal information to protest the surveillance program.

The campaign began after columnist Matt Smith printed the information — which he says is all publicly available — in a recent column for the SF Weekly. Smith wrote, "Optimistically, I dialed John and Linda Poindexter’s number — (301) 424-6613 — at their home at 10 Barrington Fare in Rockville, Md., hoping the good admiral and excused criminal might be able to offer some insight."

Smith continued, "Why, for example, is their $269,700 Rockville, Md., house covered with artificial siding, according to Maryland tax records? Shouldn’t a Reagan conspirator be able to afford repainting every seven years? Is the Donald Douglas Poindexter listed in Maryland sex-offender records any relation to the good admiral? What do Tom Maxwell, at 8 Barrington Fare, and James Galvin, at 12 Barrington Fare, think of their spooky neighbor?"

Smith added, "I needed to call Poindexter anyway, and it seemed like a worthy concept that if he’s going to be compiling data that most certainly will leak around to other departments and get used, one way to get readers to think about it was to turn that around."

Meanwhile in Washington, the Secret Service yesterday warned a group of peace activists against convening in front of War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld home tonight in Washington. Activists plan to gather in front of Rumsfeld’s home near Dupont Circle to sing holiday carols. Tonight’s gathering won’t be the first time peace activists have taken protests directly to Rumsfeld’s home. During the Ford Administration, the late Philip Berrigan once dug a grave on the lawn of Rumsfeld’s, who then too was serving as the nation’s War Secretary. The headline in the next day’s paper read 'Berrigan Arrested at Rumsfeld's Grave."

Guests:

  • Matt Smith, SF Weekly Columnist and the author of the recent pieces "The International Poindextering of Poindexter".
  • Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (He specializes in free speech law, including intersections with intellectual property law and privacy law.)
  • Medea Benjamin, founder of Global Exchange and one of founders of Code Pink: Women’s Pre-Emptive Strike for Peace.

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