Big Brother Bad Idea Still Breathing
In 2002, John Poindexter, a major outlaw in the Iran-Contra scandal, took the reins of the U.S. Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness project (TIA).x10 One of the features of TIA, was the “Terrorism Futures Market”, which would set up a web site to allow people to bet on future violent events, such as terror attacks, coups and assassinations.x11 Another feature of TIA—its core program—would collect all electronic records on any person into a massive database, and search the database to identify new terrorist suspects. Such records would include banking, shopping, email, phone calls, internet browsing, travel, educational history, medical history, veterinary history, fingerprints, retinal scans, video of one’s gait, and you-name-it. The TIA logo had the dollar bill’s pyramid with the eye on top scoping the whole world, and the inscription “scientia est potentia” (knowledge is power). The picture recalls the “enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete” that is the Ministry of Truth building in the novel 1984, and we might imagine the logo with a different inscription—“Big Brother is watching.” In 2003 news about these TIA programs got out, and the public outcry shut down the project. At that time humorist Andy Borowitz joked that the Defense Department moved Poindexter to head a new agency, “The Department of Bad Ideas”, where he could really bear down on such bizarre programs.x12 In fact, the Bush regime did move the core TIA bad idea to another department—the National Security Agency (NSA)—where it now hides in that agency’s secret budget.x13x22
So what is the status of the surviving TIA core program? The data collection part of it could be going very well. Shortly after taking office, the Bush regime started another NSA program—the illegal warrantless wiretapping at telecommunications companies.x14x23x24 In that program the agency taps into the data switches of AT&T and Verizon to watch and gather telephone and internet communications.x15x21 That information—who you call and email, the content of your calls and emails, what websites you visit, and so on—could be feeding the TIA database. But the terrorist identification part of TIA is likely going very poorly. Experts say the computer program would have to track 1000 false hits for one true hit—and would likely give many false positives.x16 Already, data from the NSA warrantless wiretapping has flooded the FBI with bum leads wasting agents’ time.x17 But, while it is hard to get a good terrorist suspect out of the database, it would be easy to identify a political opponent. The executive branch could use that capability to out-maneuver, embarrass, blackmail, harass or arrest such persons. The Bush executive has already used NSA data for spying on U.S. government officials, companies and news reporters.x18x19x20 So, having the will and the way, the Bush regime seems to be building the “is watching” part of the Big Brother society.
Full article with sources HERE.
Most Recommended Comment
Orlando, Florida, United States