- Ex-HHS Head Puts Off Being Chipped Despite July Promise
- Ex-Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson still hasn't received
an RFID implant despite a televised promise he made in July 2005 to do
- Shortly after joining the board of VeriChip Corporation
last spring, the former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and
four-term governor of Wisconsin told CNBC that he would "get chipped"
with a VeriChip implant, but he has no plans to undergo the procedure anytime
soon, according to recent revelations.
- The VeriChip is a glass-encapsulated RFID device designed
to be injected into human flesh for identification purposes and for use
as a payment device.
- In public appearances, Thompson has suggested injecting
the microchips into Americans to link to their electronic medical records.
"It's very beneficial and it's going to be extremely helpful and it's
a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record
for all Americans," he told CBS MarketWatch in July.
- When confronted by a CNBC correspondent in another July
interview about whether he would take a chip himself, Thompson replied,
"Absolutely, without a doubt."
- However, when authors Liz McIntyre and Katherine Albrecht,
who researched human chipping for their book "Spychips: How Major
Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID,"
contacted the VeriChip Corporation on December 5, they were told that the
chipping never took place.
- VeriChip spokesman John Procter said Thompson has been
"too busy" to undergo the chipping procedure, adding that he
had no clear plans to do so in the future. "I wouldn't put any type
of time line on it," Procter said.
- The VeriChip spokesman also attributed the protracted
delay in the chipping to Thompson's desire to investigate the procedure.
"He wants to see it [the VeriChip] in a real-world environment first,"
said Procter, who said he's trying to arrange a tour for Thompson at Hackensack
University Medical Center, the first hospital to implement the technology
in its emergency room.
- But the authors question this explanation. "We would
expect Mr. Thompson to investigate the device *before* advocating it to
others," said Liz McIntyre. "It sounds like he has wisely decided
to put off the implantation, perhaps due to the serious privacy and civil
liberties implications of such devices, or perhaps due to the serious medical
downsides, like electrical risks and MRI incompatibility."
- Albrecht added, "Perhaps the implants conflict with
his religious beliefs. Whatever his reasons, he should share them with
the American people, many of whom have loved and trusted him for years.
He will be responsible if they take an implant because of his influence."
- Thompson may find himself under increasing pressure to
get chipped in light of VeriChip Corporation's recent IPO announcement.
The company is relying on Thompson's cooperation to give the much maligned
human tracking chip an image boost. "He said it on live television,"
said Procter of Thompson's chipping intentions. "We look forward to
setting a firm date in accordance to his schedule and other commitments....We
want to maximize the impact of [Thompson's chipping] event...We'd certainly
like to...really knock it out of the park."
- McIntyre is hoping that Thompson will resist the pressure.
"Our concern is that the VeriChip Company would like to chip every
person on the planet, and they're counting on Thompson to be their ticket
to mass acceptance," said McIntyre. "We're hoping he will work
for the best interests of humanity and refuse to be goaded into an ill
- According to Procter, only about 60 living persons in
the U.S. have agreed to be chipped. In addition to the voluntary recipients,
the company's implants were injected into the deceased victims of hurricane
Katrina, and there are plans to chip mentally disabled patients at a residential
center in Chattanooga. VeriChip has also had talks with the Pentagon about
chipping military personnel, though Procter said that "no formal agreements
have been reached."
- A transcript of Thompson's entire CBS MarketWatch interview
is available at