When you go to the grocery store, do you have to use a store card to get the sale price?  Do you have OnStar?  E-ZPass or I-Pass? Do you use a cell phone?  Computer?   ATM?  If so, someone is gathering (or can gather) information about you, whether you like it or not.  How is that information used?  Who uses it? How long is it kept?  How is it protected?  Or is it?

This gathering of information and use of that information are issues in Brad Thor’s latest book, Black List, featuring Scot Harvath.  Harvath is an ex-Navy SEAL Secret Service agent and current covert counterterrorism agent.  In this action-packed, thought-provoking book, Harvath is set up, betrayed and has to try to evade an enemy that seems to know everything about him and everyone else.  In order to do so, he has to go off the grid.

The book begins with a preface quoting a section of Senator Frank Church’s warning on the August 17, 1975 episode of Meet the Press.  Here is a section of that speech:

“At the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

— Senator Frank Church

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/splash/13876884-418/brad-thor-takes-inspiration-for-his-latest-thriller-from-streets-of-chicago.html, Thor tells how the inspiration for Black List came an article in the November 2009 Wall Street Journal.  The lede says:

“A giant web of video-surveillance cameras has spread across Chicago…raising fears that the City of Big Shoulders is becoming the City of Big Brother.”

As with all of Thor’s books, Black List is up-to-date, filled with nail-biting situations.    But it’s the backstory here that makes for fascinating, frightening reading that will have you reassessing the current technology you use daily.  Get Black List today, from the library, from the bookstore, from an online source.  But get it, read it and think about it.  You won’t look at your technology in the same way again.

  1. Paul says:

    A couple of years ago I read the first part of a trilogy titled The Traveler by an anonymous author by the name of John Twelve Trees. It was a science fiction tale concerning living off ‘the grid’. I was able to find part two but lost interest in it and never searched out part 3. Maybe this novel will maintain my interest.

    • Let me know what you think if you do read it. It aptly describes the difficulty you would have staying out of “sight” with all the forces of technology that can be brought to bear and already are, especially if used for evil.

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