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By Bud Buck, 5/5/00

Dc: This is DCR. News meant for amusement. Computers become junk faster than any product in the history of stuff.
Obsolescence happens within … months.
And yet, when we throw out a computer, we don't always know what we're discarding. The contents are invisible to the casual observer.
Witness the recent snafu with the State Department Office of Intelligence losing a computer containing highly sensitive national security information.
Was it stolen? Misplaced? Or tossed out?
Bud Buck went looking for answers in the electronic junk yard.

(sfx: warehouse)

Bud: The warehouse for Computer Crossroads, a secondary market computer retailer.
Technology that was fresh and cutting edge yesterday is sold here at a discount. Could the missing laptop be among these machines?
What would the government pay to retrieve this information? And could a person like myself … casually shopping for second hand hardware, accidentally stumble across this potential gold mine?
I'm here with CIA agent Dwight Barney.
Agent Barney, is it possible I would find the machine with it's delicate information here in a retail warehouse setting such as this one?

Barney: No, Bud. We think the person who took the laptop knew what they were doing, they still have the machine, they've accessed the information and have incorporated it into their planning.

Bud: So there would be no sense in searching a huge warehouse like this for a surprise find that could redirect my life and change the course of history?

Barney: No, I don't think so. But you might get a good deal on a processor that's only a couple of years old.

Bud: You haven't happened across a Sinclair MX-80, have you?
I'm ready to upgrade.

Barney: I haven't, but I'll keep an eye out. Good luck.

Bud: So again … there's no chance I'm going to find Ultra top secret documents on a second hand computer hard drive?

Barney: I'm not gonna say there's "no chance." But we are asking all Americans … if they open a computer file and see security codes and sensitive information … to please look away.

Bud: Just purposely forget it?

Barney: Call your state's attorney general and report that you've unearthed critical information that is at the highest security clearance …

Bud: Above "top secret?"

Barney … Yes, we call it "Code level". And your attorney general will put you in touch with the proper authorities so you can hand over the hard drive.

Bud: Unless the person I reach at the attorney general's office happens to be a double agent working for the Russians or the Iraquis or Libyans. Or the Canadians or Israelis. Or the French.

Barney: Yes, that would complicate matters.

Bud: Within minutes every spy in the continental United States would be on the way to my home.

Barney: Well, there aren't as many "double agents" as you think.

Bud: But if I do accidentally tip my hand that I've got the secret laptop, the people who come to see me would be professional killers, would they not?

Barney: Real life isn't exactly like a spy novel. But that sort of person exists and they would be attracted to a prize like this, yes.

Bud: So … my survival would depend on my car having an oil slick sprayer and surface-to-air missiles mounted behind the turn signals? Right?

Barney: (giving in) Well … that would help, yes.

Bud: And that would be an expensive thing to do to your car, wouldn't it?

Barney: Withoug access to the intelligence budget, most certainly.

Bud: Therefore, shopping these warehouse sales for second hand computer equipment isn't quite the cost savings people make it out to be!
When you take into account everything that could possibly happen, I mean.

Barney: I guess not.

Bud: For a CIA agent, you're not so tough.

Barney: Not against such a worthy adversary.

Bud: I've read tons of Ian Fleming and Tom Clancy.

Barney: And it shows!

Bud: And yet how many people will innocently come shopping for the flotsam of our technological age, casually loading up on what could be the most expensive "bargains" in history? Time will tell! This is Bud Buck!

(sfx: warehouse out)

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