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Posts published in “Day: March 23, 2008”

Bigger and bigger brother

And right after the Claude Dallas story from Boise, which has as its theme a governmental coverup of incompetence, read this column from Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times, which is about how that same government is watching us, all of us ever more closely.

The whole thing is chilling, from the opening lines about checking citizenship records on domestic ferries, but reaches a peak with the story of a federal monitor for radioactive material on I-5 so sensitive that "the government now has the ability to detect radiation in a cat inside a car going by at 70 miles per hour. And wow at this world we live in, where we feel compelled to sniff, at random, inside the traffic coming out of Bellingham."

Not all of us feel so compelled. But those in power evidently do, which should be more than a little frightening. The closer quote from San Juan County Councilman Kevin Ranker: "I think it's fair to say many people up here have been left wondering just what kind of country it is they're living in."

Claude Dallas, revisited

When information is locked away by government entities, the reasons sometimes have to do with legitimate reasons such as safety or privacy of private citizens. But a whole lot of the time, it has more to do with avoiding discomfort for someone in public employ.

That thought might be borne in mind in reading the fascinating story out today in the Idaho Statesman by Dan Popkey, which makes the case that what we thought we knew about convicted killer Claude Dallas' escape in 1986 from an Idaho penitentiary was, in important ways, a fabrication. It isn't conclusive, but it makes a strong case: "Prison officials faked the fence-cutting to cover up the fact Dallas outsmarted his keepers and simply walked out the front door with a group of visitors shortly before 8 p.m. on March 30, 1986."

A good Sunday read, and worth considering alongside the question of why so much information gets withheld when and how it does.