Wednesday, January 21, 2009



Back in the mid-Nineties, the Vice President of Sales of the company I worked for met with agents of the local office of the FBI to discuss whether or not I should be fired because of my political beliefs and militia activism.

That is as much as I know about the meeting. I do not know who solicited the meeting, nor who brought up the subject. It could have been the VP as much as the FBI. The VP was an obsequious toady who had hated my guts since my first day at the company when I refused to blame mistakes on my people, but rather took responsibility for them myself. "You'll never get ahead in this company or in life, Mike, until you learn how to delegate blame." Needless to say, he was not popular with the other employees.

I do know that I wasn't fired -- not just then, for not just that reason. Other friends at the time lost their jobs at other companies because of their political opinions or because it was discovered that they were members of a militia. Harrassment came with the territory.

After 11 September 2001, I joined the Alabama State Defense Force's Second Brigade. I was given the rank of Staff Sergeant and wrote their first-ever training plan, something that I had more than a little experience with from my militia days. After a while, it was made clear to me that new friends I had made in ASDF were being punished, theatened by the FBI, for associating with me. I resigned rather than see them hurt.

All these memories came flooding back when I heard that a man who had simply read this blog from his computer at work and who had emailed me with questions was fired this week for doing so. He'd been with the company almost seven years, working his way up. He's a young guy, college-educated with a wife and two beautiful young daughters. They will all now suffer. It is not exactly full-employment city out there, so he's filling in with pizza delivering.

I hate it when people are punished in my name. They told him, "We know WHO you've been emailing," apparently referring to me. He had started out working the call desk for a large bank with operations all over the southeast. In time he rose to the job of planning analyst, responsible for the direct scheduling of over 300 Birmingham contact center employees. No doubt they have other employees who "misuse" their company computers for personal interests. But they chose to fire him, now.

Of course Alabama is a "Right to Work" state. They can fire him at any time for the flimsiest of reasons. But I haven't seen this sort of stuff in a decade, so it surprised me. I don't know why. I should have seen it coming and warned y'all.

Look, guys and gals, don't make it easy for the government ass-kissers in private industry to fire you in order to curry favor with their regulatory masters. If your company has a policy about private use of company computers, follow it. If you've got a hostile work environment, keep your political opinions to yourself.

Never cease to prepare, to train, to be watchful, but you don't have to advertise your presence to our enemies. They'll find out soon enough, if they continue to try to rob us of our property and our liberty.

In the mean time, if you know of a job for a bright young professional guy somewhere in the area between Birmingham and Huntsville, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Something that helps sanitize one's pc/lap top is a little program called "cyberscrub". It exceeds government specs for cleaning all browser traces, files, applications, etc, from your box. it, install it, run it, uninstall it on a daily basis if you need to....and while there's no erasing the IP numbers from the "corporate server", there'll be nothing recoverable on the PC/laptop in question to associate it to for "proof".

It's worth a try....I've been using it for about 6 years now and routinely scrub my pc's.

Anonymous said...

Shamus ... although good advice, I'd personally recommend what Dutchman suggests, FOLLOW COMPANY POLICY! Only I'd add, whether company policy or not, wait until you're home on your own system - period!

I think we need to start taking and practicing good OPSEC procedures - currently, no better time exists!

Johnny said...

Do not use your work computer, or telephone, or internet connection, for anything that is not strictly company business.

Further, do not refer to your employment when making blog comments or displaying your details on social websites, except in very vague or generic ways. To do so may appear to associate your employer with personal views you express and even a sympathetic employer may not be able to afford that, let alone a hostile one.

Anonymous said...

Much to be said about being 'the grey man' - off the radar screen, non-memorable, able to be seen or disappear as needed, to blend with whatever environment one is in.

That would include arranging one's public "workplace" persona so that no IP trails lead to anything out of the ordinary. We all KNOW that half the IT department's time is spent on snooping, so why give any info? Why contribute to a 'profile'?

I think it best to conduct one's work affairs in such a manner that IF the next stage comes, one's co-workers may someday look back and say, "You know - I thought I knew old so-and-so pretty well after all the years we worked together. Never dreamed he would be one of the ones that the news people talked about..."
Not to make it sound melodramatic at all - but grey ghosts and shadow warriors will all have their places in the days or years ahead.
Just my post-bailout two cents worth.

Anonymous said...

Neither grey, neither shadow warrior. Won't sugar coat, or tone down. The sonsofbitches know how I feel, what I believe in and why they don't like bastards like me.

But the best reason I can think of to not post from your work computer is because you made a deal with your employer to pursue his interests in that time you sold him. And he has the right to expect that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Mike and for the comments everyone. I am the person that was fired.

I was fired for 2 little reasons that added up to an excuse. Yes, I visited a few sites on company time but it honestly wasn't extreme. The nature of my job was such that I would run a report and wait 10 minutes for it to finish. If I had no other work to do then those 10 minutes would get occupied with light web surfing and blog reading. If anything, that should have been a written.

What got me was that an 'anonymous tip' was sent in to corporate security that I had a gun on company property. The tip was false and proved so by the search they conducted on my person, office, and vehicle. But they said that when they combine the tip with the surfing then they have a justifiable reason to terminate.

Some lessons get learned the hard way. I will never again use a company computer for any private activity. I did know better, but I had grown accustomed to it through nearly 7 years of employment.

Don't make it easy on them.

Anonymous said...

John, I don't think I would have submitted to that search. In fact, if past experience is any indication, I wouldn't have.

And in your case, it made no difference anyway, so why did you submit?

Not being mean, I'd really like to know.

Anonymous said...

I guess I fell into the socialist trap of 'If you've got nothing to hide, then what's the problem with a search?'

Plus the way the swooped in on me, 2 big guys against 1 average (unarmed) guy was a bit overwhelming. Hell, the damn ex-cop 'corporate security' asshole had me patted down so fast I thought he was a fag trying to get personal. Had I actually been armed, I would have had other options...

Call that lesson learned #2... And don't let that one escape you. That's why we fight AWB2/confiscation (they are the same thing). Because without the big stick, it's not possible to walk quietly enough.