'Total Info Awareness'
WASHINGTON, DC -- January 17, 2003
-- Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) has introduced legislation to
cut funding for the Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative
which was authorized as part of the Homeland Security Act signed
into law in December by President Bush.
"This unchecked system is a dangerous
step that threatens one of the values we are fighting for - freedom,"
said Feingold, the only Senator who voted against the USA PATRIOT
Act, the hastily-conceived 'anti-terrorism' law pushed through Congress
According to a press release issued
by Sen. Feingold, if the TIA program becomes reality, a central
database will be established which, "would allow the Department
of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to collect and
analyze a combination of intelligence data and personal information
like individuals' traffic violations, credit card purchases, travel
records, medical records, [and] communications records."
Two other Senators, Ron Wyden (D-OR)
and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), are joining Feingold in co-sponsoring the
legislation, but no Senate Republicans are presently taking a stand
The web site for the nebulous Information
Awareness Office (IAO) informs surfers that its purpose is to, "imagine,
develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information
technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information
systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving Total
Information Awareness useful for preemption." This convoluted
and cryptic description should confuse the discerning reader enough
to know that the IAO has surveillance plans far beyond countering
Heading the IAO is John M. Poindexter,
a national security adviser in the Reagan administration who was
appointed by President Bush in February 2002 to oversee the 'data-mining'
of Americans' personal records. Poindexter was convicted of five
felonies in 1990 for lying to Congress and obstructing investigations
into the 'Iran-Contra Affair.' These convictions were overturned
in 1991 because Poindexter had previously been granted immunity
when testifying before Congress.
Unfortunately, the bill to be presented
in the Senate by Feingold does not provide for complete elimination
of TIA, and would only suspend funding for it until there have been
some Congressional hearings about the program, and a demonstration
of the benefits of 'data-mining.'
"It is reasonable to ask Americans
to sacrifice some personal freedoms like submitting to more extensive
security screenings at airports," said Feingold. "But
we should not allow the government to track our every move - from
what items we purchase online, to our medical records, to our financial
records, without limits and without accountability."
As more Americans become 'totally aware'
of the ramifications of TIA (i.e. There will now be a central computer
at the Pentagon that will be able to monitor every transaction you
ever have or ever will make, totally destroying any expectation
of privacy!), opponents hope to pass legislation that might effectively
bury this proto-totalitarian baby before it learns to walk.
Wilshire Gazette (February
New York Times columnist William
Safire described best what life will be like soon with this new
database analyzing our movements and expenditures (to keep us safe
from terrorists, of course!):
Every purchase you make with a
Every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you
Every Web site you visit and
e-mail you send or receive,
Every academic grade you receive,
Every bank deposit you make,
Every trip you book and
every event you attend ---
All these transactions and communications
will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual,
centralized grand database.'
2002 - TIA: 'A supersnoop's dream'
2002 - Outsourcing Big Brother: Total Information Awareness Relies
on Private Sector to Track Americans
2002 - UK: ISPs Revolt Against Gov't Surveillance Plans
2002 - UK 'leads way' in communication surveillance
1997 - KEEP BIG BROTHER'S HANDS OFF THE INTERNET - By Senator John