THE ALIAS PROGRAM: ""Paul Maria' and Other Hidden Americans by Fred Graham
Kirkus Star

THE ALIAS PROGRAM: ""Paul Maria' and Other Hidden Americans

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Fred Graham, legal correspondent for CBS, points out that no other nation has ever felt the need to create a special bureau to authorize counterfeit lives. The implications--legal, moral, and bureaucratic--are staggering, and by recounting the story of one relocated individual--the Mafia stock swindler George Zelmanowitz who became prosperous San Francisco garment manufacturer Paul Maris--Graham pries into the Justice Department program that equips felons, murderers, and other Mafia informers with ""foolproof"" new identities and springs them into unsuspecting communities. The program, which came into full bloom during the Nixon-Mitchell years, is, argues Graham, fraught with perils for both the individuals and society, and subject to appalling political abuses. The aliases seldom qualify men for anything more than menial jobs; they leave such matters as insurance, credit, and Social Security to chance; they have ""swallowed up"" innocent children in the interests of security and, moreover, the newly-minted identies have ""almost always been dismal."" Graham notes that the alias program began so inconspicuously that it never received the benefit of Congressional debate. And yet, the rise and fall of Paul Marls chillingly illustrates the creeping Orwellianism of the federal government: secrecy, deception, contempt for Congress, bureaucratic arrogance. . . . Graham (The Self-Inflicted Wound, 1970) gives the story the kind of low-keyed, tight-knit presentation that heightens the surreal qualities of this most unusual of government projects. And Paul Maris is more than a foil--you'll care what happens to him.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown