Skip to comments.Senate Blocks Funding for Pentagon Database
Posted on 01/23/2003 7:19:27 PM PST by TLBSHOW
Senate Blocks Funding for Pentagon Database
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saying they feared government snooping against ordinary Americans, U.S. senators voted on Thursday to block funding for a Pentagon (news - web sites) 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.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, also said the computer dragnet being developed could not be deployed without congressional approval, although it allowed exceptions for national security. It was tacked onto a spending package in the Senate, but it is not yet law.
It is now expected to go to House and Senate negotiators. If the negotiators keep the provision in the spending package, it will advance to the House and Senate for final passage before going to the president for signing into law.
"This makes it clear that Congress wants to make sure there is no snooping on law-abiding Americans," Wyden told Reuters after the vote.
He said the electronic data dragnet as proposed was "the most far-reaching government surveillance program in history."
The Defense Department says the aim of the Total Information Awareness project, which is still in its infancy, is to seek patterns in transactions data like credit card bills and travel records to stop terrorist plots.
Wyden and other Democrats announced last week they would try to block funding for it, citing concerns that it will amount to electronic surveillance of personal data of all Americans by the government and trample privacy rights.
Senior Republican senators worked with Wyden on the wording of the Senate measure, including Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. He said he was worried the lines were getting blurred between domestic law enforcement and military security efforts.
Sorry to dissagree but that sounds like a hell of a good idea. It would be the fastest way to shut down the terrorists, after all, we are in a war and we are on the front lines.
I don't like the idea in general and I would never trust Clinton with it but I think it's the fastest way to secure ourselves. I would also like to think that we are loaning the power to do this rather than giving the power and it would need close oversight.
It always will. But we're 2 for 2 lately - TIPS and now TIA are DOA.
With all due respect to your opinion, TIA could take one of two routes. It could use, as they claim, existing commercial lists of consumer data. But the best data modellers in the direct marketing industry do cartwheels if they get a one percent response rate to their mailings - on data gathered on American consumers, the vast majority of whom make no effort to disconnect their purchasing patterns and demographics from their identies. Since I work with this data for a living, I take a few simple steps to prevent the gathering of personal information - I pay with cash whenever possible and avoid giving out personal information. As a result, I hardly ever get telemarketing calls or junk mail. I am mostly off the radar screen of this kind of data and the systems that analyze it. It would be very simple for a terrorist to do the same, rendering him invisible to TIA.
To do what Poindexter envisions, TIA would require that every business in America collect the indentity of every consumer in America at the point of sale, and transmit that information along with every item purchases to a central repository. This would require a complete overhaul of every POS system in the country, along with a massive data transmission project, with costs that you can probably envision. This, quite frankly, will not happen. So one version of TIA is worthless, and the other one unfeasible. But TIA could become a handy-dandy lookup database, especially for political opponents.
At least this is what the Iraqis would like us to believe.
Well, then, hooray for Sen. Wyden!