Friday, July 17, 2009
The Public Record
Back in 2001, the Defense Department was briefed about a massive data mining system that officials said was aimed at identifying alleged terrorists who lived and communicated with people in the United States.
The new intelligence program granted traditional law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI and the CIA the authority to conduct what was then referred to as "suspicionless surveillance" of American citizens.
"Suspicionless Surveillance" was developed by the Pentagon's controversial Total Information Awareness department, led by Admiral John Poindexter, the former national security adviser who secretly sold weapons to Middle Eastern terrorists in 1980s during the Iran-Contra affair and was convicted of a felony for lying to Congress and destroying evidence. The convictions were later overturned on appeal.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, had referred to Poindexter "the architect of a program to extend surveillance of private databases."
Rotenberg said Poindexter was involved in a 1984 policy directive criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers who said it would hand the National Security Agency control over privately held information. The directive was voided with the passage of the 1987 Computer Security Act.
But in October 2001, Poindexter resurrected his government operated data-mining proposals. It was then that he introduced TIA to the Department of Defense, around the time Bush had signed an executive order authorizing domestic surveillance under a program known as the President's Surveillance Program, according to a report issued last week by government watchdogs....(Remainder.)