CIA: We're not watching you

The agency says to ignore any warnings about "illegal" Web sites you may find in your in box.


Tim Grieve
April 17, 2006 10:41PM (UTC)

Alberto Gonzales wouldn't say much about the president's warrantless spying program when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, and he won't say whether other surveillance programs even exist. But senators searching for more responsive answers about surveillance aren't entirely out of luck: They can always subpoena the woman whose prerecorded voice appears in your ear when you call the CIA's public affairs office. She seems to know the score, and she's willing to share it with anyone who calls.

"Welcome to the public affairs office of the Central Intelligence Agency," the woman says in the message. "If you have received an e-mail purportedly sent by Steven Allison of the CIA Office of Public Affairs stating that the CIA has monitored your visits to illegal Web sites, please delete the e-mail. Rest assured that the e-mail is fake and the CIA did not send this message to you. We appreciate your concern."

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The recording is apparently a response to an e-mail message that began making its way around the world last fall. Computer users who open the file attached to the e-mail risk infecting their computers with a virus that forwards itself to everyone in their address books. In a statement on its Web site, the CIA says that it never sends unsolicited e-mail to the public. The agency's advice: "If you are not expecting an e-mail from us, delete it." That sounds about right to us -- especially if the CIA will do the same if it ever comes across an unexpected e-mail from us.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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