TOMMY THOMPSON: THE "CHIPPER" PRESIDENT?
Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson is considering a run for president in 2008, a move that should spark alarm among those familiar with Thompson's calls for widespread RFID chipping of Americans. The authors of "Spychips," Dr. Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, who closely monitor the RFID industry, caution that his position on the Board of the VeriChip Corporation and his stock options in the company make Thompson one of the most dangerous figures in American politics today.
As head of Health and Human Services, Thompson oversaw the scandal-ridden FDA when it approved the VeriChip as a medical device. Shortly after leaving his cabinet post, he joined the board of the VeriChip Corporation and wasted no time in using his clout to promote the company's glass encapsulated RFID tags. These tags are injected into human flesh to uniquely number and identify people.
In public appearances, Thompson has suggested implanting the microchips into Americans to link to their electronic medical records. "It's very beneficial and it's going to be extremely helpful and it's a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans," he told CBS MarketWatch in July 2005. He also suggested implanting military personnel with the chips to replace dog tags.
Thompson's desire to run for president is not mere speculation. Media outlets in his home state of Wisconsin, where he served four terms as governor, have confirmed Thompson is laying the foundation for a presidential bid. His wife Sue Ann has told reporters that the family has discussed his candidacy and that "He should give it a try. He's got a lot of good ideas." Thompson himself has stated, "There's no question I'm interested."
Thompson is considered a long-shot for the Republican nomination, but his influence shouldn't be discounted, says McIntyre. "Despite his folksy manner, he's a savvy politician whose Washington connections run deep, and he's got a vested interest in chipping America." She points out that Thompson has an option on more than 150,000 shares of VeriChip stock.
Right now those options aren't worth much. Security flaws and public squeamishness have hurt the company's sales, resulting in losses of millions of dollars.
"It will take a considerable shift in public perception to chip enough Americans to turn all that red ink to black," Albrecht observes. "It concerns us that Thompson would have a financial interest in having people roll up their sleeves while aiming for such an influential office."
Ironically, Thompson himself has not yet received a microchip implant despite what must be extraordinary pressure from the VeriChip Corporation. He made a promise to do so on national television over a year ago.
"Given the unpopularity of the VeriChip and people's concern it could be abused, Thompson has been wise to avoid getting chipped himself," says Albrecht. "Getting chipped would be political suicide for any politician. Even if he remains chip-free as we hope, the American people should still be wary of him."
CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999. With thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing strategies that invade their privacy and encourage privacy-conscious shopping habits across the retail spectrum.
For more information, visit CASPIAN's RFID privacy website at:
ABOUT THE BOOK
"Spychips" is the winner of the 2006 Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty and has received wide critical acclaim. Authored by recent Harvard graduate Dr. Katherine Albrecht and former bank examiner Liz McIntyre, the book is meticulously researched, drawing on patent documents, corporate source materials, conference proceedings, and firsthand interviews to paint a convincing -- and frightening -- picture of the threat posed by RFID.
Despite its hundreds of footnotes and academic-level accuracy, the book remains lively and readable according to critics, who have called it a "techno-thriller" and "a masterpiece of technocriticism."
"Spychips" is now available in a newly-released paperback version from Penguin/Plume (October 2006).
"A chilling story about an emerging future in which spychips
run amok as Big Brother and Big Shopkeeper invade our privacy in unprecedented
"Paints a 1984-ish picture of how corporations would like
to use RFID tags to keep tabs on you."
The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers
Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
© 2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.