Posted by Pattie on 4/02/2003 02:38:00 PM


I use a Nedstat counter to watch who visits various websites I maintain. It keeps track of the access provider and the country of people who visit the site. When I noticed some time ago on our radio website, First Person, Plural that we received a weekly visit from "" I got curious and went to their website. It turns out that this is the new name for the Los Alamos facility. Yes, that Los Alamos facility. After a few months of watching the counter, I noticed a pattern to the Sandia Laboratories visits. Any discussion about peace, war, the president, the United States, Iraq, Scott Ritter and, well, you get the idea, and lo and behold, Sandia Laboratories paid us a visit.

Now they've started coming to Fatty Pattie's. So, it occurred to me. I'm a member of the press. I co-produce a radio show. Sandia Laboratories has a media relations department. They publish press releases. So I decided that like a good reporter, I wanted to know more. I wrote the following e-mail:

Dear Iris Aboytes,

My name is Pattie Thomas. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Florida, and among my other projects, I co-produce a radio show, "First Person, Plural," in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for a community radio station, "CFUV-FM" with my husband, Carl Wilkerson. We also maintain a website for the show.

I've visited your website because we have a tracking counter attached to several of our webpages and we have seen the provider "" visit our webpages on a regular basis. We have noticed that this is most especially true when we discuss topics about war and terrorism. Other producers at the radio station have mentioned seeing your domain among their visitor information as well.

Not wanting to make any assumptions as to why someone from is visiting the site, we'd like you to tell us why. In fact, it occurred to us that knowing why and discussing what your organization does would make a good radio show. We suspect that it has something to do with national security, but it may just be that your organization has a fan of community radio stations. Since you don't seem to be a secret or covert organization (your website seems pretty open about its work on security and national safety issues), we figured that the answers would be of interest to our listeners and other website visitors.

Is there someone in your organization who would know about the website visits and would be willing to discuss it via a phone interview for our show? We'd love to do so. Please have them e-mail us or send us contact information so we can discuss a time and place to call them.



Pattie Thomas, Ph.D.
Carl Wilkerson, M.B.A.
"First Person, Plural" Thursdays, Noon (PDT)
CFUV 101.9 FM,


Later that day I received this:

I would suspect that the increase in listeners from Sandia National
Laboratories when you discuss topics such as war and terrorism is because of
our work in national security. Thanks for your interest in wanting to
interview someone from Sandia regarding its interest in your show. However,
we respectively decline the offer.

Chris Miller
Media Relations
Sandia National Laboratories


So I tried to find the specific program for the "work in national security" to which Chris Miller refers, but was unable to find it on their site.

I'm curious if anyone knows anything about this kind of monitoring and what they think about it. I makes me uneasy that a private company (Lockheed Martin runs the laboratory) is doing this for the government. But then it makes me uncomfortable that the government is doing this at all.

On the other hand, it isn't like they are hiding these efforts. It wasn't that difficult to find out they were visiting the site. We still might do a radio show about this kind of surveillance. (If you know of someone who would be good to interview for such a show, let me know.)

In the meantime, I got to thinking about this. When we write about war and peace, we often believe no one is listening. But, in fact, someone is indeed monitoring our discussions. So maybe we should start writing directly for them. Maybe peace blogs should be written with these monitoring companies/agencies in mind. Throw in a "hey, how are you, Big Brother? Wassup?" towards them and then, maybe "by the way, while you're trying to make the country and the world more secure, could you maybe stop making nuclear weapons and developing smart bombs?"

Today, I am going to naively hope that they might pick up on the peace and radicalize the war industry.

I know, I know, but it is a nice thought, isn't it?