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Fact of the Week

Fact of the Week

The newly-formed Information Awareness Office (IAO) at the Pentagon, like any newly-formed Pentagon office, needed a spiffy new logo. The brain trust at IAO figured that a good logo would combine global scope with a distinctly American flavor, plus a motto in Latin. In theory, this is all good.

But in theory, theory and practice are the same. The actual logo will make the tinfoil-hat crowd go nuts. The actual logo features a stylized reverse of the Great Seal of the United States (you know, the pyramid with the eye over it from the back of the American $1 bill), with a beam of light from the eye on the Great Seal shining on much of Europe and Africa. The Latin motto on the logo reads: scientia est potentia, intended to read "knowledge is power."

Even the Latin leaves something to be desired. The Chambers- Murray Latin-English Dictionary, a standard reference work, defines potentia as "political power, esp[ecially] unofficial or unconstititional power." Perhaps the IAO Latin brain trust should try declining the word potestas.

And who is head of that brain trust? Why, it's John Poindexter. Yes, the same John Poindexter who was the brains behind the Iran-Contra affair.

Sources: Information Awareness Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Cryptogon weblog, 19 July 2002.

This week's columns

True Patriotism
Paul Corrigan

True patriots include those, like Daniel Ellsberg, who tell political truths even when they are unpopular.

The Big Lie
Tim Francis-Wright

In Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson had one Big Lie. In Iraq, George Bush has at least three.

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