White Hats Waiting

The problem with being the good guys is that you’re always on edge, waiting for the next assault. Nice folks, in other words, are content to go about their affairs minding their own business. The bad guys, on the other hand, can attack at any time. The advantage of surprise is always theirs; hence the requirement that the good guys remain alert, to minimize the damage.

This vigilance can easily lead to the perception of goblins under every bed, and conspirators behind every bush. Of course, there may BE conspirators behind every bush! (I don’t know about goblins.) It’s best to keep conspiracy theories to yourself, if you don’t wish to be ridiculed as a "conspiracy nut." Still, certain things happen which entitle you, in my opinion, to wonder.

For example: I recently read a report that the Post Office wants to require ID on mail. It would be the sender who would have to provide the ID; apparently a return address just won’t cut it. The Post Office’s recommendation, published in the Federal Register October 21, would require some sort of "unique, traceable identifiers" on all mail, including first class, periodicals, standard mail, or package mailing eligible for discounted postage rates — whatever that might be. I suppose that includes everything that you could mail, or it would be pointless. The stated purpose of this proposal is to reduce the danger of terrorism via the mails. Who could argue with that?

The President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service also advised the use of sender identification "for every piece of mail," saying "requiring sender-identification for discount-rate mail is an initial step on the road to intelligent mail." Hm. If the ID is to be on "every piece of mail" wouldn’t that include "discount-rate mail?" Am I confused, or is it the Commission? Is obfuscation and confusion absolutely essential to all government projects? And what is "intelligent mail?" Maybe junk mail that throws itself into the wastebasket!

So where is the conspiracy? Well, maybe there isn’t any. On the other hand, we know that there have been discussions of ID’s for Americans for a few years now, with the idea being pretty overwhelmingly rejected. I am ancient enough to remember those movies during and after WWII, where innocent folks on the streets of Nazi-occupied towns would be stopped by gruff jack-booted SS men, who demanded "Papieren, bitte!" I always wondered, if some Nazi were to accost me as I left the theater, what papers I would show him. Would my brand-new drivers license do? The idea of carrying around some documents to satisfy the curiosity of officious strangers was, and is, repellent. But some sort of ID on each piece of mail I posted isn’t so bad, is it?

Whatever form this ID takes, it must obviously be unique to each individual. And since you never know when you might want to mail a letter, you would be advised to keep this unique identifier upon you at all times. Do you get the direction here? Once a citizen becomes accustomed to carrying his unique mail identifier with them, what’s the harm in producing it, in the name of national security, truth, justice, and the American Way!! It’s not really a national ID at all, you see, but a mail-security device. That’s OK!

The immediate stimulus to this mail ID thing is said to be the anthrax threat of a few years ago. Remember that? People dead and dying all over the place, right? A few pinches of white powder in a letter to a Congressman, and the whole government shuts down! Good grief, we can’t have that, can we? (Can’t we?) If you’ve a real gift for conspiracies, you can detect one here, too. The anthrax scare was a hoax, you see, designed to create a demand for ID’s on every piece of mail, lest we face a similar disaster (!?) in the future. And the mail ID, in turn, is the back door approach to a national ID, which, if presented in a straightforward manner, would be again rejected.

Well, I’ve got my white hat on, sitting in my rocker, minding my own business, and wondering how much longer before some new threat presents itself, and how. Well, maybe it’s coming by mail!

And, Lo!! A few weeks after the above words were written, there is news of a Congressional office building being closed down because of mail received containing a white power, presumably ricin, a deadly poison. Now we REALLY need that ID! If at first you don’t succeed—–.

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.

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