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Wednesday, February 5, 2014




A Press TV email was sent to me at 11:24 AM, but I only got it seven hours later, so I missed my interview. I wonder if one of our surveillance agencies has anything to do with this? Since I've been providing regular political commentaries on Iranian television for over three years now, I'm sure I'm very much on the NSA's radar.



Anonymous said...

Is this a sly attempt at humor? Do you think US Intelligence agencies really would jam up your email based on your intelligent writing and commentary on world events? You're not that important in the multi-decade schemes of these systems.

Linh Dinh said...

Listen, they have trolls going into forums to leave messages, so they even care to disrupt debates among ordinary, "unimportant" citizens. I'm not sure you're not a troll yourself. Please use your real name the next time you comment. Thank you.

My writing in Vietnamese has provoked reactions from the Vietnamese police. They've sent me fake emails accompanied by viruses. Let's say I have a friend named XYZ, with an email account. The Vietnamese police would set up a nearly identical account, .
See the difference? Just a _ before the other email address. Using this fake account, they would send me an email purportedly from XYZ but with a virus in the attachment.

When I lived in Saigon from 1999 to 2001, I dealt directly with the police who were monitoring me, so I know a few things about their dirty and even petty tactics.

Further, the Vietnamese intelligence is not a fraction of its US Big Brother. With so many goons on the payrolls, they have more than enough resource to follow and harass a lot of people, including sending some naive sounding goofball with his "sly attempt at humor" comment.

Linh Dinh said...

P.S. And you would have to be very dense to think American intelligence is not monitoring Press TV and its communications! A thorn in the side of the US empire, Press TV has already been knocked off the air in many Western markets.

Matthew Carlson said...

Real name used this time--I wrote the first comment. I read your blog weekly and really appreciate your work. I pass your writing on to family and friends often.

Knowing what we know about NSA systems at this point, it appears that they could trivially censor the net and attack anyone algorithmically determined a target. Keyword searches would reveal a set of names associated with topics, scoop up the names, and attack all email/phone systems for that target. All tech is in place and ready for full totalitarian state rollout.

Sure they're monitoring it all, but my first comment was really meant to help ease the paranoia. It's all around these days given the number of lies surrounding these systems. There could be a Stratfor like team working a private contract to comment spam blogs--it could be international in scope to work around US laws--hire the Israelis to do it, for example.

It's not paranoia if indeed you are being monitored.

Linh Dinh said...

Ah, so you are real! Thanks, Matt. Now I know who I'm talking to, and I apologize for sounding testy. I really thought you might be one of those guys.

The government will ridicule its opponents while taking them very seriously. Just think of Occupy, for example. Even as the government spent lots of money and time to infiltrate that movement, it made them out to be incoherent freaks with poor hygiene who shouldn't be taken seriously. Or look at how Iran is routinely depicted in the Western media.

Linh Dinh said...

Another Vietnam tale: While living in Saigon in 2001, I was invited by the Lannan Foundation to give a poetry reading back in the States. Knowing I might not be given a visa to return to Vietnam, I paid a corrupt cop around $500, which is a fortune for me, for a businessman's visa, since this allowed multiple entries. With this visa, I reentered Vietnam after having been in Santa Fe, New York and Philadelphia. Since I had lots of books for my Vietnamese friends, I was prepared to bribe the Saigon airport official to take them into the country, but this official was not paying attention, apparently, since he somehow missed my bag full of books, and never hassled me. I saved a few bucks, in short. Also, the lateness of my arrival might have been a factor, for my plane landed around 2AM, if I remember correctly.

By 8:30, however, I was on the phone to arrange a meeting with my closest friends in Saigon, so I could give them these books. Soon as I hung up the phone, however, it rang, and I mean immediately, with barely a second in between, and the guy on the other end was, you guess it, the cop assigned to monitor me. I still remember his first name, "Viet," which is as patriotic as you can get. Very tersely, he said he was coming over to chat with me. Though he was clearly furious to find out that I had left the country without his knowledge, he didn't mention this fact when he showed up, but merely asked about my trip in a pseudo friendly way. Before he arrived, though, I had hidden the most incriminating books under my bed, but leaving enough on my desk so he had enough to frown at. He opened a volume on Balthus, looked at the reproductions, voiced his mild disapproval, but did not confiscate it. After staying for at least half an hour, Viet left.

Linh Dinh said...

P.S. Speaking of confiscation, the Saigon post office seized my short story collection, Fake House, when this was sent to me by Seven Stories Press. I still have the receipt somewhere. On it, the reason given for the confiscation is that the book is "decadent and reactionary." I remember trying to argue with the post office official in Saigon. I tried to reason that since the book was in English, it wouldn't have any impact whatsoever in Saigon, but the lady didn't buy it. I also joked that since I was the author of the book, I couldn't corrupt myself. She didn't laugh.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.