For those of you who don't remember who John Poindexter is, please do a Google search.

The rest of you need no further introduction than the words Iran contra.

Poindexter is up to a new plot, and it's got a lot of tails in a lot of twists, because it is so big and so bold and — everybody agrees — so scary.

Poindexter has $200 million from the Pentagon to gather up every scrap of information his computers can find about everybody — everybody in this country, everybody who uses the Internet... all this in an effort to find the terrorists who are plotting online with each other.

So once again we have the security conscious versus the Big Brother conscious arguing about whether this is a good idea, and if Poindexter and the Pentagon should be allowed to do it.

It will be very intrusive, in the sense you will not be able to make even a keystroke on your computer without Poindexter's computers recording and filing it in some huge data warehouse.

At the same time — at least, theoretically — transactions like Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammad Atta's financial transfers and airline travel and email would be red-flagged and studied.

Maybe it's just me, but I've had to get over Big Brother because he's already got so much on me. A credit report, just for instance, can be a very sobering read. If you hook that up with every other file sitting somewhere... health records, marital stuff, education records... Big Brother's already got the complete book.

So they already know all about you and me. It's the Mohammad Atta's of the world that they don't know about, and that's precisely what we need Poindexter or anybody to do.

That's My Word .

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