Meet TIA [Total Information Awareness -- AKA "Big Brother"]

Mike Friedman mikedf at
Wed Nov 20 15:19:24 MST 2002

Seems that Bush really is trying to put in place the framework for
some sort of military rule. The homeland security bill sets up the
kind of superagency that Bush's predecessors wanted FEMA to be, but
where FEMA was mandated for "crises" (broadly speaking), Homeland
Security is ALL the time. The following describes TIA, a military
program for electronically monitoring every U.S. citizen. And guess
who's in charge? John Poindexter.

November 14-20, 2002
Meet TIA

by Bruce Schimmel

It would be the biggest, baddest database of them all. A fact-digger
capable of massive electronic strip-mining. And now we not only know
its name, but who wants to run it.

The name of this proposed database crawler is the Total Information
Awareness system, or TIA, for short. TIA is a project of the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Pentagon program best known for
its early contribution to what became the Internet.

The man in charge of TIA is Vice Admiral John M. Poindexter. He is
best known for his contribution to what became the Iran-Contra affair.

Poindexter was among those convicted during the administration of
Ronald Reagan for arming terrorists against the specific prohibition
of Congress. His 1990 conviction was later overturned under a grant
of immunity.

With Poindexter's return earlier this year to the Pentagon, the
executive branch is again apparently trying to use the military to do
an end run around civilian control. Only now, should they succeed
with TIA, Poindexter's people will have access to everything virtual
about every American citizen.

J. Edgar Hoover would have loved it -- except that TIA will be under
the control of the military.

The goal of the TIA, according to a recent New York Times article, is
to provide "intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with
instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records
to credit card and banking transaction and travel documents, without
a search warrant."

As inclusive and excessive at that may seem, according to an official
schematic of the military-run system
(, TIA will have even greater
powers to penetrate our private lives.

TIA will be designed to scan records of finance, education, travel,
medical, veterinary, country entry, transportation and housing.

TIA was created last year with an initial budget of $96 million; the
2003 budget, according to the trade journal Federal Computer Week, is
about $150 million. However, this information -- in fact, any hard
information about TIA -- is difficult to verify.

When asked about the program by the Times, Poindexter declined to be
interviewed; an unnamed spokeswoman from the Pentagon confirmed only
that they were trying to coordinate with law enforcement agencies; an
FBI official, also speaking anonymously, would only say that there
have been discussions with the military; and a Homeland Security
spokesman claimed not to know anything at all about TIA.

What we do know is this: The Homeland Security Act, now before
Congress, would loosen the Privacy Act of 1974, which limits what the
government can do with an individual's private information.

If that bill passes, then TIA can really take off.

(bruce at

Philadelphia City Paper

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