- Picture this bleak future, Americans with no civil liberties.
No right to free speech. No right to question your government. Newly-enacted
Y2k related legislation places limits on free speech and on your right
to access vital information obtained from corporations-even when your safety
and well being is affected. What are they trying to hide?
- Corporate America Under Siege: The Undeclared State of
Emergency By Stuart H. Rodman 12-2-99
- Suppose you found corporate documents which say that
your company has a chemical plant that could send a poisonous, billowing
cloud of lethal byproducts hovering over your neighborhood killing thousands
of people instantly and leaving the survivors blinded, with scarred lungs,
cancers, and otherwise maimed for life. And, what if you also discovered
that the government already knows about this but that it is now a federal
crime to tell anyone else what you discovered! Even if you survive the
pending calamity, your life will be ruined by your own government, just
for trying to save others. Sound like fiction? It's not. It is as real
as a heart attack. Recent legislation enacted by Congress creates just
such a possibility. Consider the following:
- Under provisions of the recently enacted Chemical Safety
Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act, Public Law
106-40, you could be fined up to a million dollars a year for speaking
ill about a corporate chemical plant! In a posting from "Roleigh's
Lodge", Roleigh Martin's prominent Y2k related internet site, observer
Scott Secor offers this caution to "covered persons" and researchers,
- Whether you are or not, you better keep your mouth shut
about chemical plants. You can be fined $5000 per facility per mouth off,
up to a total of $1 million/year. Speech restrictions will be in effect
until Aug. 5, 2000, at which time a decision will be made on the restoration
- It's true! The new law provides that hazardous materials
produced or stored in these plants, which most Americans live within five
miles of, must be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency in the
form of an "Off Site Consequences Analysis" (OCA). This report
details the worst case scenario for the plant in the event of a Y2k related
computer failure. What we don't know could hurt us. A chemical discharge
in Bhopal India killed 2,000 people within just a few miles of a Union
Carbide plant in 1984. The U.S. General Accounting Office says that most
of the 66,000 such plants in the U.S. are susceptible to the Y2K computer
problem but still are not ready for the Year 2000.
- Despite the harsh realities, if you have actually have
seen the OCA report and divulge any of its contents to the public, you
become a "covered researcher" and could be fined up to a million
dollars a year per incident. These reports must be pretty scary. The good
news? People without access to the facts are still free to speak at will.
Only those who speak the truth are placed outside the law! There's more.
- Imagine that you heard that utility companies around
the country might fail next year and that 26 million Americans may be forced
to survive without winter heating, drinking water or sanitation. Did you
think that as a citizen you had the right to know details about how this
information might affect you or your loved ones? Think again! According
to Congress, not so if the information concerns the Y2k computer glitch.
- The Year 2000 Readiness and Information Disclosure Act,
Public Law 105-271, places public utility companies in a position whereby
the truth about their Y2k preparations is no longer accountable to ordinary
citizens. This new federal law makes Year 2000 information exempt from
release even under the Freedom of Information Act! That's what a citizen
action group in San Diego discovered when they attempted to use the act
to resolve questions raised in the media about the readiness status of
local drinking water utilities.
- "Five communities within a seventy mile radius of
my home were recently revealed by the U.S. Navy as being likely to experience
a 'probable total failure' in essential services this winter because of
Y2k.", says Mark Snyder, a local San Diego resident and Vice President
of the San Diego Y2k Citizen's Action Group.
- Local concerns about the preparedness status of utilities
were heightened last summer with the release of the Navy's "Master
Utility List", an internal working document maintained by the Navy
to keep tabs on the availability of civilian infrastructure near their
installations around the country. The spreadsheets produced for this study
revealed that because of Y2k, essential services in 128 cities affecting
26 million Americans were at risk for some level of failure this winter
including water, gas, or electric services. Other cities also targeted
for trouble in the report included New York City, Miami, Orlando, and Clearwater,
Florida among dozens of other.
- "We just want to know the truth about the County's
essential services so we can prepare ourselves and our loved ones properly",
says Snyder. "Even after the spreadsheets were made public though,
our local authorities denied that there were any problems."
- In fact, although acknowledging that the spreadsheets
were authentic, Naval officials explained that the dire predictions were
the result of missing data and not a final conclusion. It appears that
the civilian authorities in 44 of the 128 cities surveyed by the Navy had
refused to answer questions posed by Navy auditors even when only 6 months
remained before the immovable deadline of January 1, 2000.
- Snyder explained, "San Diego is a Navy town. We
just can't understand why our local utility representatives would not be
more forthcoming when approached by them. It makes us wonder if there is
something horrible that they are holding back."
- Snyder's concerns seem well founded. Recent studies of
Year 2000 preparedness by the government's General Accounting Office found
that the distribution of drinking water and waste removal is highly susceptible
to the Y2k computer problem and to the availability of electricity from
the power grid. However, the Y2k status of water districts throughout the
country is not coordinated by any outside public agencies and the status
of the municipal districts is mostly unknown.
- Snyder adds, "making matter worse is the fact barely
one third of the electric utility companies on the grid have allowed their
Y2k plans to be audited by anyone outside their own industry. They tell
us they're ready but many of their systems have been exempted from testing
just because their vendors say the new parts are great. When independent
laboratories examined the problem though, they report that many similar
deliveries fail up to fifty percent of the time. We feel there is plenty
to worry about."
- A Siege Mentality
- In an effort to find the truth, Snyder's group sought
relief under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). They
were soon to be stunned however. Although the Navy seemed more than eager
to accommodate the group's desire for the details regarding information
affecting their community, they were unable to do so because the Act had
been quietly modified to make information about utility preparedness none
of the group's business!
- The newly enacted Year 2000 Information and Readiness
Disclosure Act (Public Law 105-271), modifies the FOIA which was originally
enacted to provide citizen's with a vital tool for maintaining the nation's
system of checks and balances. The new law reads, in part,
- "Except with the express consent or permission of
the provider of information described in paragraph (1), any year 2000 statements
or other such information provided by a party in response to a special
year 2000 data gathering request made under this subsection- (A) shall
be exempt from disclosure under subsection (b)(4) of section 552 of title
5, United States Code, commonly known as the ``Freedom of Information Act'';
(B) shall not be disclosed to any third party"
- Citizen's rights are rarely suspended in a time of peace.
However, the corporate special interests have used their muscle in Congress
to assure that secrets about their Y2k readiness plans remain well beyond
the level of ordinary public scrutiny. Despite public claims to the contrary,
things may be so bad for them in fact that they felt it necessary to lean
upon Congress to create an undeclared, defacto state of National Emergency.
- Will the new millennium bring with it the last days of
civil liberties? The latest congressional actions seem to express our government's
greater duty to promote the agenda of corporations then to preserve and
protect citizen's rights. San Diego's Y2K Action Group may have already
had a taste of the future. For now at least though, they may still have
recourse from President Clinton in the form of an audit by the Executive
Branch of the Federal Government. While most of us regard the Y2k computer
problem as a technology issue, it seems the virus has suddenly mutated
itself and has now become the bug that ate our civil liberties.
- About the Author
- Stuart's reports on the developing Y2k story have been
heard nationwide on radio appearances including Coast to Coast AM with
Art Bell, Sightings on the Radio, The Laura Lee Show, and Common Sense
with Jim Bell.
- Stuart is a Y2k Activist with a background in the IT
profession. He holds an M.S. Degree from Portland State University and
has been a featured panelist and community advocate for the White House
Council on Year 2000 Conversion's "Community Conversations" initiative.
- Stuart's book "The Last Days of Power? The True
Story" is available for immediate delivery from thesurvivalstore.com
- Contact Stuart from www.stuarthrodman.com Or email to: