Live by the Internet, be enslaved by the Internet.
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which
funded the development of the Internet, is now funding the
Information Awareness Office (IAO) to develop a "large-scale
counterterrorism database." The idea is to keep track of every
bit of information on everyone in the country and "detect,
classify and identify foreign terrorists."
So far, the Pentagon scientists have terrified a lot of
Americans. The program manager for the IAO is John Poindexter,
the retired admiral who masterminded the shameful Iran-Contra
Now he's master-minding the supercomputers that DARPA
developed in the '80s,
while he was lying to Congress.
Poindexter doesn't have all our phone calls, Macy's
purchases and bridge crossings in a database yet. So far DARPA
has an arrows-and-boxes model of what this "Total Information
Awareness" (TIA) system will look like.
Your "transactional data" (financial, medical,
governmental, etc.) will be combined with biometric data such
as fingerprints in "automated virtual data repositories" --
after passing through a dotted line in the flow chart labeled
"privacy and security."
It's a very thin dotted line.
Then the data will be fed into a "collaborative multiagency
analytical environment," which probably means a bunch of
spooks sitting around a table. From there the data goes to the
"policy and ops environment," and the ops include "pre-empt."
I don't know if that means Guantanamo or a bullet to the
back of the head. But remember who's in charge of the data.
And remember that it's data on you.
So far individual crazies and wonks are ahead of Poindexter in
mining data from the Internet.
In June, the Illuminati Conspiracy Archive posted a story
on the IAO amid stories on UFOs and microchips implanted in
humans. It pointed out that the official seal of the IAO is
the "all-seeing eye" associated with the Illuminati -- a
shadowy group of Freemasons that for centuries has been
rumored to rule the world.
Sure enough, the IAO logo shows an eye on top of a pyramid
shining onto a globe -- with the Middle East most brightly
Poindexter. The all-seeing eye. The Illuminati. A
centralized database measured in petabytes. Thank you, DARPA,
for giving us the Total Paranoia System.
How could Big Brother be so dumb? DARPA has hired a proven
scoundrel to rummage through all our records without a
"DARPA was founded in 1958, and the people who sat in that
office in those early years were much more attuned to broader
policy issues," said Smithsonian Institution historian Martin
J. Collins, who wrote "Cold War Laboratory," on science,
weapons development and free society during the Cold War.
DARPA's notion of using "Total Information Awareness" to
find a few terrorists sounds like SOSUS, the Navy's Sound
Surveillance System that picked up all the sound in the ocean
to track Soviet submarines.
"That's an interesting analogy," said Collins, who found
the use of acronyms similar to the Cold War. "But it makes it
(TIA) sound too benign."
These are not whales, merchant ships and Foxtrot-class subs
the government will be listening to. The government will be
listening to every move we make. You'll have to take the word
of a man who lied to Congress that he's just listening to
On "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" Monday, Marc Rotenberg of the
Electronic Privacy Center said: "I think there's a real
argument to be made at this point that this project should be
suspended by the U.S. Congress until further investigation of
the capability and imagined ends are understood."
Perhaps he puts too much faith in Congress. Poindexter has
been there before, and Congress is weaker now.
All our technological strength bespeaks weakness.
Poindexter's IAO is also funding "Babylon," a handheld
automated speech translation system for the soldiers of a
country weak on languages.
Maybe that will work, but how about "FutureMAP," which
concentrates on "market-based techniques for avoiding surprise
and predicting future events."
It sounds like a jobs program for out-of-work stock market
analysts. Man, are we in trouble. I am, anyway. This goes
straight into the database.
Rob Morse's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
and Sundays. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.