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March 13, 2006

Watching the Watchers

The Chicago Tribune published an investigative report yesterday on how easy it is to use the Internet to out CIA employees, even the secret ones.  The story lead starts with a description of an agent, her general past history and current whereabouts.  The Tribune did not publish so many details at the request of the CIA, who, from the tone of the story, acknowledged what the paper uncovered.  In fact, using subscription based online services, the Tribune was able to find "a virtual directory of more than 2,600 CIA employees, 50 internal agency telephone numbers and the locations of some two dozen secret CIA facilities around the United States."  This has got to be scary for an agency that does most of its business in shadows.

It has to be scary for the rest of us as well, as 1) the government can't keep certain secrets which they ought to keep, 2) even though we know our lives are digitized, we don't know the true extent, and 3) if the Tribune can get information on 2,600 CIA agents, what can anybody get on us?

Scary stuff.  Lexis and Westlaw have people finder portions of their databases that contain some truly detailed information about people, although they were not mentioned in the article.  The paper probably used other sites as well, similar to those who promised telephone records for anyone.  Those sites came through prompting outrage and legislation.  Will these disclosures do the same?

The article is on the Tribune web site, with free access via site subscription.

March 13, 2006 | Permalink

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