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Data mining program continues after lawmakers order it closed

Raw Story | February 25 2006

A controversial intelligence data mining program, which was closed by lawmakers over privacy concerns two years ago, has continued to receive funding and remained in operation under different code names in different agencies, according to today's National Journal.

Excerpts from the Journal's article follow:

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Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.

Two of the most important components of the TIA program were moved to the Advanced Research and Development Activity, housed at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., documents and sources confirm. One piece was the Information Awareness Prototype System, the core architecture that tied together numerous information extraction, analysis, and dissemination tools developed under TIA. The prototype system included privacy-protection technologies that may have been discontinued or scaled back following the move to ARDA. ...

Another key TIA project that moved to ARDA was Genoa II, which focused on building information technologies to help analysts and policy makers anticipate and pre-empt terrorist attacks. Genoa II was renamed Topsail when it moved to ARDA, intelligence sources confirmed. (The name continues the program's nautical nomenclature; "genoa" is a synonym for the headsail of a ship.)

It is unclear when funding for Topsail was terminated. But earlier this month, at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, one of TIA's strongest critics questioned whether intelligence officials knew that some of its programs had been moved to other agencies. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and FBI Director Robert Mueller whether it was "correct that when [TIA] was closed, that several ... projects were moved to various intelligence agencies.... I and others on this panel led the effort to close [TIA]; we want to know if Mr. Poindexter's programs are going on somewhere else."

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For the full story, including ties to Iran-Contra's John Poindexter, go here.

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