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-   -   "Cancelled" TIA project is on-going. (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=112426)

turbo Feb27-06 04:04 PM

"Cancelled" TIA project is on-going.
 
The Total Information Awareness program (John Poindexter's project to gather all personal and public information about us in one huge database) was officially shut down two years ago. Unfortunately, the spy guys simply changed the name of the project and moved it to the NSA where it is beyond Congressional oversight. It is the lead story for 2/27 on Democracy Now, which can be viewed in streaming video format or listened to as an audio stream.

http://www.democracynow.org/

I had posted this earlier, but fell afoul of some new forum rules, so the thread was locked. I will tell you why I think this TIA business is a terrible thing - knowledge is power, and by gathering all public and personal (including medical, financial, telephone, movie rental, etc) records about every American citizen, our government is building the most seductive tool that a would-be tyrant could ever want to use against his "enemies". Dick Nixon would not have hesitated to use such knowledge to ruin the people who disagreed with him, and I have no confidence that members of the current administration or future administrations will be able to resist the temptation to turn this information to their personal advantage.

russ_watters Feb27-06 04:21 PM

In a society who'se criminal proceedings are based on the premise of "innocent until proven guilty," I find it difficult to accept as a basis for shutting down this project the assumption that someone somewhere sometime will use this data for personal political subterfuge. Shutting down the project requires going a step further to assume that a crime will even be committed. If we were to base laws or security decisions on such premises, we'd allow no instruments of any kind capable of being used in a crime.

Hurkyl Feb27-06 04:55 PM

Quote:

Quote by turbo-1
I will tell you why I think this TIA business is a terrible thing - knowledge is power

I am going to infer that this is the point you want to make; the rest of the post is just elaborating.

There is a clear flaw in this thesis: a government must have power, otherwise it can't do anything. Without power, the government cannot:

(1) insure domestic Tranquility
(2) provide for the common defence
(3) promote general Welfare
(4) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

So it is futile to put forth an argument that anything is bad simply because it gives the government power. The argument has to be more nuanced than that.

Your elaboration seems to suggest that you did, in fact, mean to put forth a more nuanced thesis, but I can't decide precisely what that was, so I'll let you explain before I comment more on it.

turbo Feb27-06 05:00 PM

Quote:

Quote by russ_watters
In a society who'se criminal proceedings are based on the premise of "innocent until proven guilty," I find it difficult to accept as a basis for shutting down this project the assumption that someone somewhere sometime will use this data for personal political subterfuge. Shutting down the project requires going a step further to assume that a crime will even be committed. If we were to base laws or security decisions on such premises, we'd allow no instruments of any kind capable of being used in a crime.

Congress shut the program down because the potential for misuse was tremendous and there were no safeguards in place to prevent misuse. The Bush administration once again defied Congress and simply moved the project to the NSA where Congressional oversight is impossible. You may think that "National Security" trumps all individual rights, including the right to privacy. I do not. This administration hollers about "national security" and "terrorism" every time that they want to explain away some activity that reduces our personal freedoms, and it is time that they are taken to task for their lies.

Hurkyl Feb27-06 05:05 PM

Quote:

Quote by turbo-1
You may think that "National Security" trumps all individual rights, including the right to privacy. I do not. This administration hollers about "national security" and "terrorism" every time that they want to explain away some activity that reduces our personal freedoms, and it is time that they are taken to task for their lies.

Ye gads; I thought this was a thread about TIA!

turbo Feb27-06 05:15 PM

Quote:

Quote by Hurkyl
Your elaboration seems to suggest that you did, in fact, mean to put forth a more nuanced thesis, but I can't decide precisely what that was, so I'll let you explain before I comment more on it.

Let's pretend that you want to run for Congress, and the current administration (at that time) wants to make sure that you lose. They let you alone as you win the primary, then just before election day when there is no chance of a replacement, they start releasing information about you that would erode your support with some groups. The information might be:
1) you rented porn at the video store
2) you were treated for a sexually-transmitted disease (your wife may or may not have know about that one)
3) you are deeply in debt
4) you were a suspect in a criminal case (cleared or not)
5) you are taking anti-depressive drugs
6) you called phone-sex lines or bookmakers
7) you are taking prescription drugs that are specific to a disease that could be fatal to you in short order
8) you were busted for possession of pot in high school

I could go on and on, but surely now you get the point. Information is power and all that information about everybody in the US is going to be misused. I don't want any administration to have this kind of power, certainly not this one that claims to be above US and international law because "we are at war".

Hurkyl Feb27-06 05:24 PM

Quote:

Quote by turbo-1
I could go on and on, but surely now you get the point.

You're saying "Somebody could do something bad". But so what? People could do bad things before TIA too. So no, I don't get your point. (Because I'm going to assume that you don't mean to argue something so utterly trivial)

turbo Feb27-06 05:33 PM

Quote:

Quote by Hurkyl
You're saying "Somebody could do something bad". But so what? People could do bad things before TIA too. So no, I don't get your point. (Because I'm going to assume that you don't mean to argue something so utterly trivial)

No, I am not saying "Somebody could do something bad" I am saying that somebody will misuse the data gathered by this program for personal and/or political gain. The Republican-dominated Congress knew this and tried to shut down TIA. The administration did not want to give up this program, so they hid it and kept it running.

Hurkyl Feb27-06 05:40 PM

Quote:

Quote by turbo-1
I am saying that somebody will misuse the data gathered by this program for personal and/or political gain.

"will" vs "could" doesn't make any difference to my previous post.

Cyrus Feb27-06 05:49 PM

Quote:

In a society who'se criminal proceedings are based on the premise of "innocent until proven guilty," I find it difficult to accept as a basis for shutting down this project the assumption that someone somewhere sometime will use this data for personal political subterfuge. Shutting down the project requires going a step further to assume that a crime will even be committed. If we were to base laws or security decisions on such premises, we'd allow no instruments of any kind capable of being used in a crime.
Yeah, keep telling yourself that. :uhh: Maybe we should just use all the data to extrapolate when crimes will occur and arrest people beforehand.

Chris Mathews gave a talk at my school one day, and someone asked him a question, "what if they government kept track of who you voted for to stop things like the florida voting from happening again. He said no, thats the last thing you want. If someone were to get ahold of that kind of information they would own you.

I heard the report on my way home in the car today. God they need to fire Amy Goodman, what a horrid reporter. That lady absolutely stinks. She is too liberal for anyones taste.

turbo Feb27-06 05:50 PM

Quote:

Quote by Hurkyl
I repeat, so what?

If the Republican administration uses this information to cement their hold on government, we will no longer have a representative government, but a police state run by a single party. That is a very real possibility. With Bush's approval ratings in the dumpster, the people pulling his strings will do whatever they can to ensure Republican victories in the upcoming mid-terms. This administration has told us (and shown us) that they can disobey any law they find inconvenient, so why do you think that they will "play nice" with this massive data-mining operation?

Hurkyl Feb27-06 05:56 PM

Quote:

Quote by turbo-1
why do you think that they will "play nice" with this massive data-mining operation?

I never said, or even suggested that. (Or its negation)

What I did not want to do was to put words in your mouth. And it's a good thing I didn't, because I would not have guessed you were trying to argue a conspiracy theory.

I was expecting something more reasonable, like an attempt to argue that the justice system would be powerless to respond to misuse of power. Of course, I don't know upon what such an argument could be based, but still, it was along the lines of where I thought this was going.

turbo Feb27-06 06:07 PM

Quote:

Quote by Hurkyl
I was expecting something more reasonable, like an attempt to argue that the justice system would be powerless to respond to misuse of power. Of course, I don't know upon what such an argument could be based, but still, it was along the lines of where I thought this was going.

Congress shut the program down and the administration simply put it somewhere where Congressional oversight is restricted and kept it going. This is a blatant violation of all our rights and of the authority of Congress. The administration is already usurping Judicial powers - continuing warrantless searching and wiretapping without the approval of the FISA court. Our government was designed to have a balance of power, not a presidential dictator who regards our laws as "suggestions" and our courts as mere hindrances to his personal programs.

Hurkyl Feb27-06 06:17 PM

So this isn't supposed to be a thread about TIA at all then? It's supposed to be for Bush-bashing?

turbo Feb27-06 06:38 PM

Quote:

Quote by Hurkyl
So this isn't supposed to be a thread about TIA at all then? It's supposed to be for Bush-bashing?

You may look at the original (locked) thread and see for yourself that I intended for the thread to concentrate on the problem about the continuance of TIA. The "Bush-bashing" is simple pragmatism, and is engendered by your credulous attitude that "it's OK because the Bush administration is doing it for us". Our government is being hijacked and our rights and privacy are being stolen, and all you can say is "so what?" This is pretty scary. How many other people are willing to sacrifice their privacy to a political organization and just trust them to watch over us? Not me, and by the way I vote for Republicans about as often as I vote for Democrats. I am far more fiscally conservative than any of our elected officials and probably far more socially liberal than them, too. I do not want ANY administration to have unfettered access to the TIA data. There are creeps in both parties.

loseyourname Feb27-06 06:46 PM

Quote:

Quote by russ_watters
In a society who'se criminal proceedings are based on the premise of "innocent until proven guilty," I find it difficult to accept as a basis for shutting down this project the assumption that someone somewhere sometime will use this data for personal political subterfuge. Shutting down the project requires going a step further to assume that a crime will even be committed. If we were to base laws or security decisions on such premises, we'd allow no instruments of any kind capable of being used in a crime.

While I won't agree that this program will lead to a single-party system in the future (I honestly cannot see the logic there), there is plenty of precedent in constitutional law for intentionally limiting the power of government to ensure that the potential for misuse is not there. Even outside of the government, plenty of agencies do this. A better example than outlawing weapons is outlawing monopolies. Sure, there is no guarantee that a company with a monopoly will price-gouge or make poor products (and we could just outlaw price-gouging or the creation of poor products), but we'd rather not allow the necessary infrastructure that allows such abuse in the first place to come about.

Especially in the case of a government, it's very difficult to take away its powers once they've been abused. This is the same reason I'm against the broad interpretation of the interstate commerce clause. Sure, it's allowed Congress to do plenty of great things like passing civil rights legislation and fair labor laws, but it also sets up the infrastructure (gives them the power) to do many bad things. I often quote this piece from an article on Frank Herbert:

Quote:

That is, he observed that people seem to have an inbuilt hunger for a powerful, charismatic leader to whom we can surrender our responsibility for making difficult decisions. Hebert observed that even the best leaders are humans, those humans have flaws, and elevating any man to a position of god-like power tends to magnify those human flaws to dangerous proportions. Worse, even if the original leader resists the temptation to abuse power, the bureaucracy which springs up around him will outlive him, and over time a bureaucracy becomes more and more incented to prioritize its own needs over the needs of people.
Obviously, this is talking about a dictator, but the principle is the same. Giving too much power to a bureaucracy, even an initially benevolent bureaucracy, almost always leads to an abuse of power at some point, simply because bureaucracies tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power. I'll freely admit that I can post no concrete evidence that anything of this nature will take place, or is even highly probable, but given that the people placed in charge of projects like these are not elected, and often operate with minimal oversight, the best way to keep them in check is to minimize the power that any one bureaucracy has (or even any two or three bureaucracies with identical interests).

All of this said, I'm arguing on an entirely academic level at this point. From what I can see, Shane Harris didn't give any evidence that TIA has simply changed names and lives on - he simply said it was so. Furthermore, since TIA didn't seem to gather any new information - it just collected all of the existing information in one place - I'm not sure it even increases the power of any government agency. It simply increases the speed and efficiency of their data retrieval; as far as I know, they already can obtain any of this information if they wish to. This just gives them a database to access that information faster.

TheStatutoryApe Feb27-06 07:05 PM

Quote:

Quote by Cyrus
Yeah, keep telling yourself that. Maybe we should just use all the data to extrapolate when crimes will occur and arrest people beforehand.

That seems infact to be the very reasoning of the argument put forth in this thread. "Someone will commit a crime and so this program is criminal!" (a paraphrase ofcourse)
Maybe you can see now why Hurkyl would like a more concise argument instead of ranting?

Cyrus Feb27-06 07:26 PM

Whaa? What are you talking about.


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