The end of total information awareness?
January 24, 2003 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Saying they feared government snooping against ordinary Americans, U.S. senators voted Thursday to block funding for a Pentagon computer project that would scour databases for terrorist threats. By a voice vote, the Senate voted to ban funding for the Total Information Awareness program, under former national security adviser John Poindexter, until the Pentagon explains the program and assesses its impact on civil liberties.from wired news.
posted by elwoodwiles (12 comments total)
Thank god they realized what a horrible idea TIA is.
posted by bshort at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2003

The vote only attaches the ban to a senate spending bill and is not yet law. The issue is to be debated in the house and senate before final approval. I'm sorry to make a newsfilter post (I've been trying to be good, really) but since this was a truly frightening idea I thought this was good news and should be shared. It's not over, though, call, mail and email your reps and kill this thing.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2003

perhaps there is a god after all?
posted by mcsweetie at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2003

Read the text of Senate Amendment 59 to HJRes2.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2003

I wonder if congress voting down funding for it will kill it. That is, parts of the government have become so arrogant that they figure, "Oh, the hell with you, we're gonna do it anyway."

Recently, this includes the office of strategic disinformation, you remember the one they backed off on, only to later admit that they still *did* create that office, only they just gave it a more innocuous office name.

Or how about when the NSA used black budget money to build its own satellite tracking center, and, oops, neglected to inform congress?

In this case, they will probably say, "Okay, we won't have *One* computer system that does all of this." Meaning: we'll have TWO.
posted by kablam at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2003

Thanks MrMoonPie for digging that up. Here is a section of interest from your first link:
LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ON TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS PROGRAM.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, commencing 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, no funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense, whether to an element of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or any other element, or to any other department, agency, or element of the Federal Government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Total Information Awareness program unless--
    (1) the report described in subsection (b) is submitted to Congress not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act; or
    (2) the President certifies to Congress in writing, that--
    (A) the submittal of the report to Congress within 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act is not practicable; and
    (B) the cessation of research and development on the Total Information Awareness program would endanger the national security of the United States.

The report would be required to contain:
(A) a detailed explanation of the actual and intended use of funds for each project and activity of the Total Information Awareness program, including an expenditure plan for the use of such funds;
    (B) the schedule for proposed research and development on each project and activity of the Total Information Awareness program; and
    (C) target dates for the deployment of each project and activity of the Total Information Awareness program;
    (2) assesses the likely efficacy of systems such as the Total Information Awareness program in providing practically valuable predictive assessments of the plans, intentions, or capabilities of terrorists or terrorist groups;
    (3) assesses the likely impact of the implementation of a system such as the Total Information Awareness program on privacy and civil liberties; and
(4) sets forth a list of the laws and regulations that govern the information to be collected by the Total Information Awareness program, and a description of any modifications of such laws that will be required to use the information in the manner proposed under such program;
    (5) includes recommendations, endorsed by the Attorney General, for practices, procedures, regulations, or legislation on the deployment, implementation, or use of the Total Information Awareness program to eliminate or minimize adverse effects of such program on privacy and other civil liberties.

In other words the TIA isn't necessarily dead, but up for public debate and congressional control. This is a positive step being made by members of congress to prevent the executive branch from taking control of law enforcement activities free from constitutional constraint.

on preview: You have a point, Kablam. I would argue that such trickery would be harder if congress was willing to prevent an office such as TIA from forming. Other sections of the bill (I've quoted too much already) state that funding is disallowed even if the project is moved to another division of, or outside the Pentagon. But yes, of course, elements of our government could just go ahead and break the law, but having to remain underground will make a system like TIA much less effective and totally inadmissible in court.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:51 PM on January 24, 2003

eh, while i think that some people who head our government are cuniving and distrustful of all american people, i believe most people wouldnt want a system like TIA to come about.
if anything this vote is the first sign that we're coming off of the post-sept 11th nightmare, seeing as this was only passed to begin with because congress didnt want to be blamed for any future attacks ("Why didnt you follow that one piece of evidence! if you would have taken that tiny shred of evidence seriously, then sept 11th would never happened!!!!!!" type things...)

Terrorism is going to be less and less of an excuse to pass crazy ideas like TIA (although a TIA-like program is bound to be around anyway, it would be crazy not to have one, just be not as powerful as poindexter first wanted it)
posted by klik99 at 2:57 PM on January 24, 2003

Elwoodwiles: totally inadmissible in PUBLIC court.
posted by zekinskia at 2:59 PM on January 24, 2003

DAMN! - I'll have to can my lucrative IAO bumper sticker idea, the one with that sinister logo, with text that reads 'Only Americans with something to HIDE need FEAR the Office of Information Awareness' - Bummmer....
posted by troutfishing at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2003

Wow. Spines. Cool. Wonder how long it'll last.
posted by holycola at 4:20 PM on January 24, 2003

Meanwhile, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Freimut Duve, today criticised the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the United States for monitoring book-buyers and readers by investigating library records, newspaper subscriptions and bookstore receipts of customers under the Patriot Act.
posted by MzB at 4:44 PM on January 24, 2003

Fucking A! And I had lost all hope and faith in our system. Bravo Cogress... Take that Johnny-boy!
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:19 PM on January 24, 2003

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