February 28, 2006

Rich Hersh of Boca Raton, Florida, a 59 year-old wheelchair bound, disabled American is fed up. So fed up is he with local high school military recruitment (legalized by the "No Child Left Behind bill") that he sets up his own info table right alongside handsome, camo-garbed U.S. army recruiters at a local high school. He wants to advise impressionable high schoolers to look before they leap into an abyss called Iraq.

With sagging army recruitment numbers and ever increasing American death rates in Iraq, the Bush administration does not take kindly on any operation that interferes with their need for new bodies in

their never ending War on Terror.

Despite numerous glares and stares from the "competition," Hersh does not buckle. But now he looks over his shoulder. More than once a day. Hersh is concerned. Concerned about being wiretapped, eavesdropped, surveilled, and intimidated...by his own government. Rich Hersh is a board member of the Truth Project, Inc. a non-profit educational organization (www.truthproject.info) based in Palm Beach County,Florida.

The Truth Project gained national attention Dec. 13,2005 when NBC News reported that a Pentagon agency {902 Military Intelligence Group out of Ft. Mead, Md.} had monitored and infiltrated the group when about eight of its board members met in November 2004 in a Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth, Florida. (see photo)The 400-page document obtained by NBC described the group as both a "threat" and "credible."

{For the Record: There have been no indications that the members of the Truth Project were being monitored for any links to terrorism or al-Qaida, or would have been the focus of any of the domestic spying efforts Bush said he has approved on more than 30 occasions
since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.}

The group has filed several Freedom of Information Requests to obtain more information about government monitoring. {Hersh has agreed to forward such documents to Crooksandliars.com for publication
immediately upon receipt}

"We really want to know the extent of the spying that has been going on, and want Congress to do something about the misbehaviors by the executive branch," says Hersh.

Last week, in the spirit of "Mr. Smith Goes To

Washington", Mr. Hersh rolled his wheelchair into a Capital Hill basement meeting room for a hearing chaired by Michigan Congressman John Conyers to investigate domestic spying on American civilians.

I interviewed Mr. Hersh on Monday, January 30th, 2006.
Here's what I learned:

MG: What is "BeNow"?

RH: BeNow, Inc. of Wakefield, Mass. is a data collection firm hired by the DOD to provide them with information on American high
school students. Everything from their social security numbers, their grade point average, what video games they buy, ect. It is paid for by U.S. tax payers.

MG: In order to better recruit them?

RH: Yes.

MG: Your organization, the Truth Project provides documents for students to opt out of being recruited.
Does it work?

RH: Yes, but its up to the individual student to getthem and file them. To go around that the DOD is
simply purchasing the same info through companies like Be Now or other data collection firms.

MG: Lets talk about surveillance. You don't as of yet have the hard evidence as you've filed for that under
FOI. What is the soft evidence?

RH: Well, for instance, when you pick up your phone there is at first, no dial tone, then you say into the phone, "I want to make a call" and the dial tone comes on. In addition, when you are engaged in a telephonecall the audio tone changes throughout the call.

MG: You mentioned your website.

RH: Yes, we have been hacked repeatedly. Out email address books have been stolen. Our emails move far slower now. Our webmaster informs us these are typicalresults from scanning or hacking by an outside source.

MG: How about the physical surveillance?

RH: Strangers show up in our meetings. We are a small elderly group so when a crew cut young muscle man with wraparound shades sits in the back, well you take notice. Then when we pass around the sign up sheets

for people to list their contact info, both he and the
sheets usually disappear at the same time.

MG: You mentioned two homeless guys at a rally?

RH: Yes, two supposedly homeless guys were at our rally pushing shopping carts around with suitcases in them and talking to each other on cell phones. At the end of the rally they and their carts were loaded into the back of trucks and driven away.

MG: What about the black Ford Explorers?

RH: Well they sit there and take pictures through tinted windows. Then they turn around and come back and do it again.

MG: You believe this is part of the so-called "Talon"program.

RH: Yes, from what I understand.

MG: How about the waterways? You mentioned the canals.

RH: We have meetings in a member's backyard which has a canal. A bass fishing boat always shows up with a military-looking guy who never catches anything and won't even wave back to us when we wave at him to say hello. He is just making believe he is fishing.

MG: So how does it feel to be an enemy of the state?

RH: That was never my intention, I can assure you.

MG: Thank you so much for your time.

RH: You bet.

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