No Place to Hide?

This article on government surveillance was written in 1998. Today, over twelve years later, world leaders are fast approaching their goals. But as more information is gathered, that information becomes increasingly vulnerable to hackers.

Skip down to Personal identifying number

See also A National Information System - Executive Order #13011


Surveillance is becoming a normal part of life in the "free" nations of the world, and America is leading the way. Surveillance cameras like those Andy and I saw along streets in Australia some years ago are now posted in schools, hospitals, and workplaces in this country. But such visible signs of a watchful Big Brother pale in comparison to a greater threat. Beyond the sight of ordinary Americans lurk vast interconnected systems of private, state, federal and international databanks. Their fast-growing files of personal information about ordinary citizens are now shared, sold, distorted, and often used to monitor, manipulate, and manage lives in ways we can hardly conceive.

Long before The New York Times (July 20, 1998) announced President Clinton's plans for "a giant medical database" with the "unique health identifier" needed to monitor people "from cradle to grave,"[1] these invasive databanks were eroding our freedom. In The Sale of Privacy, a 1992 book exposing this growing threat, Jeffrey Rothfeder tells the story of Ernest Trent who was severely injured on his job and received Workman's Compensation.

This personal information was sent to a large databank accessible to potential employers -- but not to Trent. Needing a less physically demanding job, he began his search and faced nearly 200 rejections. His qualifications were excellent. Why, then, would no one hire him? Finally a friend with a small business checked his file in the databank and saw the problem. Though Trent had done nothing wrong, he had been "blacklisted".

Long-established private databanks may betray our trust and spread false or incriminating data. But even more alarming is the fast-growing union of federal databanks tracking American citizens. (See "A National Information System - Executive Order #13011") In flagrant violation of the Privacy Act of 1974,[2] the IRS, FBI, CIA and other federal agencies have been gathering and sharing electronic files on countless millions of Americans. Many who, like myself, question the growing power of our federal government are apparently included in this massive surveillance system. [3]

"The numbers [of databanks] are staggering," wrote Rothfeder. He explained why:

Rothfeder pointed to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCID) as an example of the malignant expansion of these databanks. Keep in mind, this was written in 1992:

The missing link in these huge data collecting systems has been a fail-safe "identifier", a uniform computer code that would clearly identify every person and help standardize information in a massive new government-and-private tracking system. So, in 1996, our Republican Congress passed a law that called for such an identifier.[6] Like most steps toward greater government control, this "personal identifier" was promoted under the noble banner of a public need: a coordinated health care system in which a job change would not cause the loss of insurance.

It was now up to the Clinton administration to "assign codes, as law requires, to create giant medical database." According to The New York Times article titled "A Unique Personal Identifier", "every person would be given an electronic medical identification code."[7] It would enable the vast system of federal databanks not only to monitor us "from cradle to grave," but also assess compliance with the evolving global standards for politically correct values and behavior -- a process essential to the sustainable development of human as well as natural resources. This "identifier" could use Social Security numbers or a new "composite number" based on personal history, or it could be a "'biomedical marker,' like a thumb print or an electronic scan of the retina."[8]

Mental Health. Keep in mind, "health" includes mental health. And the political and education leaders who intend to mold human resources for the 21st century community are more interested in your mental health than in your physical health. (See "The UN Plan for Your Mental Health")

This massive identification and tracking system would be implemented by Secretary Donna Shalala and her Department of Health and Human Services. Its health guidelines -- including mental health -- match those established by the World Health Organization (WHO) half a century ago.

Psychiatrist Brock Chisholm, former chief of the WHO, summarized these international guidelines back in 1946. Notice his hostility toward biblical absolutes and values:

"Re-education" is key to the preparation of human resources for the "sustainable communities" outlined by the President's Council on Sustainable Development.[10] Everyone must embrace the beliefs and values needed for global unity and compliance with the national-international management described in its report, Sustainable America.

The attitudinal and behavioral changes Dr. Chisholm recommends have become the primary goals of UNESCO's program for "lifelong learning", which is being implemented in our American schools through Goals 2000. To finish the transformation according to the blueprint for Total Quality Management, every human resource must be assessed, monitored, and re-educated when found non-compliant. The rate of change must be measured. A reliable personal identifier is essential to an efficient, standardized, and inclusive TQM monitoring system.

The national guidelines for mental health go far beyond the traditional meaning of mental illness. Through the American Cancer Society, our Department of Health and Human Services provides national health standards that call for the same politically correct attitudes and group thinking students must learn before they can earn their work certificates and win entrance to college and good jobs.[11]

A National ID. Compliance with the new standards will be rewarded,[12] and the proposed National ID cards will show who conforms. The two alarming proposals -- a "unique identifier" and a National ID -- seem made for each other.

U.S. Congressman Ron Paul saw the danger. On September 18, 1998, he sent an urgent warning to his colleagues, asking that "language forbidding the expenditure of funds to implement either Section 656 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and Section 1173 (b) of the Social Security Act... be included in any omnibus budget considered by Congress this year." Then he summarized the threat to American freedom:

"Unless Congress acts to stop this scheme, no American will be able to get a job; open a bank account; apply for Social Security or Medicare; exercise their Second Amendment rights; or even take an airplane flight unless they produce their federally-approved state drivers' license..."
"These provisions represents a major power-grab by the federal government and a major threat to liberty. As the law stands now, the federal government will have the ability to inappropriately monitor the movements and transactions of every citizen. History shows that when government gains the power to monitor the actions of the people, it eventually uses that power to impose totalitarian controls on them.
"The Clinton administration has even come out in favor of allowing law enforcement officials access to health care information, in complete disregard of the fifth amendment...
"Some claim that the problems can be fixed by passing "privacy protection" legislation. However, legislative attempts to protect the privacy of information collected by, or at the command, of government officials are likely to be ineffective at protecting citizens from the prying eyes of government officials.
"...the only effective way to protect privacy is to forbid the government from forcing citizens to accept a national identifier.

Persecution. Surveillance is nothing new. The twentieth century created some effective ways of identifying and monitoring citizens, especially those who might resist a new ideology. Look at the first three decades of the Soviet Union. Its pioneering strategies for molding the minds of its people, monitoring compliance, and punishing non-compliance modeled government control to other totalitarian regimes around the world. Soon China, North Korea, and other Communist nations followed suit.

So did Nazi Germany. According to a display in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, "the Gestapo gathered much of its information from private citizens.. even children were taught to report on their parents. The Gestapo's main sources, however, were Nazi party officials and SS men who constantly monitored the activities of all citizens."

What surprises me is the reluctance of Americans to believe that such control over human minds could transform life in the USA as well as the rest of the world.

When it does, there will be no place to hide -- other than in Jesus Christ. But that's no small promise. The Lord -- the mighty King of heaven and earth -- has promised to be our Shepherd, our Provider, our Peace, and our Hiding Place. David knew it well, therefore he could sing with joyful confidence:

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
...Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
Though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident...
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me...
Therefore... I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD." Psalm 27:1-6


1. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Health Identifier for all Americans Runs into Hurdles," The New York Times, 20 July 1998.

2. "Legislation adopted to 'provide certain safeguards for an individual against an invasion of privacy.' The law says the government may not maintain secret databanks, and mandates that all information the government collects about Americans be kept confidential. Under the legislation, people have the right to know about records pertaining to them, and they must be told who else sees them and how they're used. Without a written consent an agency is prohibited from sharing an individual's record s with anyone else and from using them for a secondary purpose." The Sale of Privacy, p. 125.

3. See "A Terrorist? Me?"

4. Rothfeeder, p. 126.

5. Ibid., 129-130.

6. Section 1173 (b) of the Social Security Act.

7. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Health Identifier for all Americans Runs into Hurdles," The New York Times, 20 July 1998

8. Ibid.

9. Brock Chisholm, The Re-establishment of Peacetime Society.

10. See "Local Agenda 21."

11. Visit the website for the Department of Health and Human Services, then find "The National Health Education Standards" and read the definition for "Health Literacy." <> Each item refers to thinking skills needed for compliance with the consensus process and to mental preparation for the new sustainable communities. (See "Local Agenda 21" and "Character Training for Global Citizenship")

12. College and better jobs will be reserved for those who qualify for the various certificates based on conformity to politically correct attitudes, values, and group thinking. Non-conformists who cling to biblical values and individual thinking will fail the test for mental health. They must be remediated, and their permanent personal data file will describe their problem attitudes: uncooperative, intolerant, independent.... (See "Zero Tolerance for Non-Compliance" and "Character Training for Global Citizenship" at our website.)

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