What is the MATRIX?
A new state-run surveillance program
New York, New York, Oct. 30 The American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) filed simultaneous state Freedom of Information Act requests
in Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania on Oct. 30
about those states participation in the new MATRIX database surveillance
system. It also released an Issue Brief explaining the problems with
the program, which also operates in Florida and Utah.
Congress killed the Pentagons Total Information Awareness
data mining program, but now the federal government is trying to build
up a state-run equivalent, said Barry Steinhardt, Director of
the ACLUs Technology and Liberty Program.
In essence, the government is replacing an unpopular Big Brother
initiative with a lot of Little Brothers, he added, noting that
the program is receiving $12 million from the Departments of Justice
and Homeland Security. What does it take for the message to get
through that government spying on the activities of innocent Americans
will not be tolerated?
The ACLUs requests, which were filed under individual states
open-records laws, come on the heels of a federal Freedom of Information
Act request it filed Oct. 17. A similar request was also filed in Florida,
where the program originated. The goal of the requests is to find out
what information sources the system is drawing on information
program officials have refused to disclose as well as who has
access to the database and how it is being used.
According to Congressional testimony and news reports, The MATRIX (Multistate
Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange) creates dossiers about individuals
from government databases and private-sector information companies that
compile files on Americans activities for profit. It then makes
those dossiers available for search by federal and state law enforcement
officers. In addition, MATRIX workers comb through the millions of files
in a search for anomalies that may be indicative of terrorist
or other criminal activity.
While company officials have refused to disclose details of the program,
according to news reports the kind of information to be searched includes
credit histories, drivers license photographs, marriage and divorce
records, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and the names and
addresses of family members, neighbors, and business associates.
Raising even more issues, the MATRIX is operated by a private company,
Seisint Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida. Ironically, the companys
founder was forced to resign after information about his own past came
to light: according to Florida police, he was formerly a drug smuggler
who had piloted multiple planeloads of cocaine from Colombia to the
Members of Congress who voted to close down TIA in the belief
that they were ending this kind of data mining surveillance must demand
more information about the MATRIX, said Steinhardt. And
then they should shut it down too.
Gene Robinson: Anglican Churchs
first openly gay Bishop
By Andrew Buncombe
Durham, New Hampshire, Nov. 3 The Reverend Gene Robinson
was consecrated as the Anglican churchs first openly gay Bishop
at a ceremony at the University of New Hampshire on Sunday, Nov. 2 with
over 4,000 people in attendance.
But surely the 56-year-old divorced father could not have anticipated
the words of Father Earle Fox, a retired priest from Pittsburgh, who
intervened dramatically during the consecration service in Durham, New
Hampshire, after the head of the US Episcopalian Church asked if there
Whatever else homosexuality is, it is a behavior. It would thus
be reasonable to inquire into the nature of such behavior for which
approval is sought, Fox told the congregation of several thousand,
including more than two dozen Bishops. For males, about 99 per
cent engage in oral sex, 91 per cent engage in anal sex, 82 per cent
engage in rimming, touching of the anus of one partner. Before
Fox could get any further, he was cut of by the US primate, the Most
Reverend Frank Griswold, and asked to get to the substance of the objection.
A copy of Foxs entire speech, obtained afterwards by The Independent,
suggests that the retired priest was trying to shock people and further
widen the schism of the already divided Anglican worldwide community.
It was supposed to shock people, Fox said afterwards. Our
side are too embarrassed to talk about it, the others dont dare
In New Hampshire - where Robinson was selected as the Bishop-elect
earlier this year - there has been a weight of opinion in support of
a man generally considered dignified, friendly, and someone more than
able to provide leadership to the church as it faces new challenges.
Pretty soon, it is going to be time for us to get over all of
this pain and difficulty and get on with the gospel, Robinson,
now the Bishop of New Hampshire, said in a recent interview with The
Independent. That is what God would have us do and that is what
we need to do here in the diocese of New Hampshire.
In the well-heeled university city of Durham which hosted yesterdays
event - most people seemed to believe that with who Robinson shared
his bed was a matter for him.
Local parishioners and members of the clergy had shown their support
for Robinson by donating gold jewelry that was melted down and forged
into a cross for him to wear during the consecration service.
Some divorced parishioners sent wedding rings. One woman, Judith Esmay,
sent a pin to right a wrong she committed nearly 50 years
ago when, as the president of her student association, she failed to
support the membership of a black student. Its been lingering
inside of me that I should have done more, she said. Being
part of Robinsons election makes me feel that somehow I have paid
back. This has given me a second chance to stand my ground and say This
But in the wider Anglican community or communion, most particularly
in Africa and Asia, the fact that Robinsons partner is a man -
Mark Andrew, a local health official - is something that has created
a controversy marked at the extremes by venom and hatred. The Primate
of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, described homosexuality as a satanic
aberration unknown even in animal relations.
Robinson has had to take the objections to his consecration seriously.
Among the e-mails and messages he had received were death threats. In
recent weeks he had traveled with bodyguards and the organizers of his
consecration had arranged for him to arrive in secret, out of sight.
We just wanted to elect a Bishop. We did not expect to be at the
center of a controversy, said Ruth Fox, a member of the committee
that had overseen the selection process.
Source: Independent (UK)