Wednesday, February 17, 2016


CHAMELEO has just received a glowingly positive review from Victor Peppard in the most recent edition of THE MAILER REVIEW (Vol. 9, No. 1, Fall 2015).  Peppard, Professor of Russian at the University of South Florida, has written a comprehensive, seven-page analysis of the book entitled “How the New Order of Surveillance Really Works,” in which he states, “CHAMELEO is indeed a strange story, one we might wish were not true, but after reading Robert Guffey’s book I am convinced that it is.”

Here are some highlights from the review: 

“Guffey, who combines the technique of a good investigative reporter with that of a (well published) fine storyteller, is interested in whether the government can keep a secret […].

“While writing this review I have encountered two articles in the press that substantiate and complement Robert Guffey’s depiction of how the military and the intelligence services abuse our freedoms with their technology, both exotic and ordinary.  The first of these appeared on June 3, 2015, 4A in an Associated Press report in the Tampa Bay Times:  ‘The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying a video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology—all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, the Associated Press has learned.’  These planes can carry ‘technology that can identify thousands of people below through cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public.’  Naturally, the FBI claims that its surveillance planes, of which there are more than one hundred, operate within the agency’s rules.  Here I cannot resist saying, should we be glad of that or concerned about it?  The news about these flights comes at a time when, as the AP puts it, ‘the Justice Department seeks to navigate privacy concerns arising from aerial surveillance by… drones.’  Robert Guffey and Dion Fuller will no doubt be more than interested to see how Justice resolves the issues.  And when will we read in the mainstream press about the ways in which the government has conducted experiments to try out its new ‘intelligence gathering’ equipment on people like Dion Fuller?

“The second reference is an article, ‘Loitering with Intent’ by William M. Arkin in Harper’s, June 2015: 11-16, about the military’s use of drones and its inability to control the massive amounts it collects.  Arkin understands well the deleterious impact of these practices when he writes:  ‘When I look at the digital legions splayed out in the battlefield that is truly global, I see drones and the Data Machine they serve as the greatest threats to our national security, our safety, and our very way of life’ (16).  As we see here, Arkin’s analysis dovetails with Guffey’s depiction of surveillance drones in that each of them shows how much they erode the liberty and privacy we claim to hold so dear.  (Arkin’s article is from Unmanned:  Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare, scheduled to appear in August 2015 by Little Brown.)  I would add that it appears from the PBS “News of the Week in Review,” June 19, 2015, that those who launch drones do not always know who they are targeting and only find out after a strike has been made.  This separation of the warrior at a desk from the enemy is one of the major faults Arkin finds with the new warfare the United States is waging.

“It needs to be stressed that Robert Guffey is not indulging in an exercise in science fiction, about which he is well informed, and he has done extensive research on the military’s surveillance techniques […].

“CHAMELEO consists of a number of narrative forms that include extensive interviews […], letters written by and to the author, in addition to detailed footnotes […].

“Most of all, I believe we should pay serious attention to Guffey’s exposing of the surveillance techniques and tactics employed by what he calls ‘The Machine.’  And we should also heed his exhortations to fight against them—if only we had the initiative and the gumption to do so.”

If you wish to read the entire review, a copy of this volume of THE MAILER REVIEW can be purchased right HERE.

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