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Review :: [none]

What I Got Out of "How to Get Anything on Anybody"

"If you really want to know all the ways our government, police, and private spy-geeks can monitor your life, dig in...."


This is the first review in a new project for this site. Other reviews in the works include Betsy Leondar-Wright, Class Matters (to be reviewed by Annette Walker of UE Local 160); David Solnit, Globalize Liberation (to be reviewed by Farhang Rouhani of Mary Washington University); and Martha A. Ackelsberg, "Free Women Of Spain: Anarchism And The Struggle For The Emancipation Of Women" (also to be reviewed by Sue Frankel-Streit)

A review of Lee Lapin, How to Get Anything on Anybody, Volume 3 (Paladin Press, 2005) 580 pages. $99.95.


If you really want to know all the ways our government, police, and private spy-geeks can monitor your life, dig in.


But as a person with a lifetime commitment to contribute to liberation for all through nonviolent, direct action, the only really valuable things I got out of How to Get Anything on Anybody(Paladin Press, 2005) by mercenary spy Lee Lapin, was an affirmation of my belief that such “security? is an illusion and a distraction.


You could read this book to try and learn how to evade spying and spies. But the book shows how trying to beat the oppressors at their own "security" game is not only counter-productive to liberation, it’s also incredibly time-consuming, impossible to achieve, and guaranteed to make you less trusting and less trustworthy. Our only real security lies in building trustworthy community. The work of community building is just as time consuming as the work of paranoic protection against spying, but at least it’s not an impossible task. At least it’s results are life-giving. And you don’t have to read a poorly-written, abysmally-edited 580 page, $99 tome to attempt it.


Amongst all the weird stories about friends of his getting arrested (or avoiding arrest) for spy-related activity, and the long, complicated instructions on “How to Use a Laser to Eavesdrop on Anyone? there are a few handy hints for getting information off computers that don’t belong to you and for how to make free, undetectable long-distance phone calls.


But unfortunately, you'll feel pretty slimy just reading this book.


Most of the “legitimate? uses of spy-ware Lapin offers are heinous to most of us: catching illegal immigrants, spying on your partner, conducting FBI surveillance. The first 145 pages are about telephones: how to keep your calls private, how to listen to other people’s private calls, how to track people using cell phones. There are a couple of interesting pages on ECHELON, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) world-wide surveillance system.


Lapin moves on to listening through walls, lock-picking, and finally--if you make it to page 417--“How to Put Anyone Under Surveillance via Their Computer.? Again, just knowing it can be done and is being done is a good reminder; a good reminder NOT to play the game.


Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to put things in an e-mail that you don’t want the world, or Big Brother, to read. But it also doesn’t make sense to spend hours trying to encrypt your messages—they’ll figure it out eventually. Create a trustworthy affinity group, build community, and get real grounded, because if you’re really a threat to the system, they know it.


And even if they don’t know who you are, know you're out there, or think that you're a threat, there are still people like Lapin who will tap your phone just because they think it’s fun.

 
 


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