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Cancelled TIA project is on-going.

by turbo
Tags: cancelled, ongoing, project
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russ_watters
#55
Mar7-06, 12:58 PM
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Quote Quote by SOS2008
A review of what you've said....
We got way off topic there and I'm not going to continue that. I'm going to go back to the beginning and get us on point here, because the problem with this thread - this issue - is that the fear is based on a lack of information that fed unwarranted speculation. To be more specific, my earlier objection to speculating about what type of information would/could be collected appears to be correct. I have done some research and the things listed in the OP are largely a product of the imagination of a New York Times opinion columnist and various political figures. Part of the problem is the name provokes the imagination - when people see "total information awareness" they think that it is going to include all of the information that exists anywhere. This is false. Not only were things like phone calls (the content, not the records) and medical records never mentioned by those on the project, they were very specific in pointing out that all examples they gave were just hypotheticals. Ie, the project was in the development stage and they hadn't even figured out yet what information they would/could collect. They were also specific in pointing out that they were not recommending any changes to any relevant laws.

HERE is a link to an archive of information about this issue (with a nice history summary), including the original NYT news article (not the opinion piece referenced in the OP and later news stories) that broke the story in 2002, linked HERE You need a password (free), but the relevant portions are:
As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from Internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant.
I've bolded the parts where it talks about the information. This information is factual in nature, but factual in that it was stated in speaches as hypothetical examples. Whether or not that information could have or would have actually been included is unknown to anyone right now - even to those who worked on the project, because it was still early in development. Also:
Admiral Poindexter, who has described the plan in public documents and speeches but declined to be interviewed, has said that the government needs to "break down the stovepipes" that separate commercial and government databases, allowing teams of intelligence agency analysts to hunt for hidden patterns of activity with powerful computers.

"We must become much more efficient and more clever in the ways we find new sources of data, mine information from the new and old, generate information, make it available for analysis, convert it to knowledge, and create actionable options," he said in a speech in California earlier this year.
Again, he's talking in generalities and stating a personal opinion (also of note, he's focusing on electronic data, not things like phone conversations). He's pushing his project, but that doesn't make even his speculation a reality.
In order to deploy such a system, known as Total Information Awareness, new legislation would be needed, some of which has been proposed by the Bush administration in the Homeland Security Act that is now before Congress. That legislation would amend the Privacy Act of 1974, which was intended to limit what government agencies could do with private information.
This quote is key: it points out that new legislation would be required, some of which has already passed in the Homeland Security Act, but in doing so, it makes the reader aware that the system has not been deployed, the necessary legislation has not been passed, and therefore, the scope has not been pinned-down.
An F.B.I. official, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said the bureau had had preliminary discussions with the Pentagon about the project but that no final decision had been made about what information the F.B.I. might add to the system.
Straightforward - again, what information would be in the system (in this case, from the FBI) had not been pinned down.

The site linked in the OP references THIS editorial, published the week after the NYT initially broke the story, as its source of the claim of what would be covered. Among other things, it says:
If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
Where does he get these from? He makes them up. (he's allowed to do that: it's an opinion piece.) How do I know this? Because, his only source of information at that point was the speeches by Poindexter. But this is what was picked up - and even expanded on - by the conspiracy theory sites. After the story broke, Poindexter didn't give any interviews, but one underling clarified what was going on in THIS quote:
Poindexter has repeatedly refused to grant interviews to the news media. However, his deputy, Robert Popp, has spoken to journalists and at public gatherings. He has emphasized that DARPA isn't building a machine to search information, but is testing the technological viability of the concept using fictional or legally obtained data. Additionally, Popp said, the agency is building privacy protections into the system's design, looking for ways to encrypt data so that only authorized people could see the name of a person associated with a piece of information.

Once DARPA's research is complete - probably in about three years - the agency would share the plans with agencies interested in using the system, Popp said. Likely interested parties would include the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security Department and National Security Agency. [emphasis added]
So at the point when the story initially broke, TIA was little more than a research program with no privacy implications yet.

By January of '03, Congressmen (from both sides of the aisle) were pontificating about the evils of the program. They demanded the DoD submit a report elaborating on what the program was. It was submitted in May of '03 and again, while it used hypothetical examples, it gave no specifcs about what would actually be collected because there were no specifics to give. In addition, it again pointed out that it was not proposing any additional legislation (HSA wasn't passed for the sake of TIA, but had implicationsn for it) - it was simply too early to even consider the question of what to collect. Unfortunately, I can't find the report itself, but many articles reference it. HERE is one such article. One relevant point:
The report is disappointing -- after more than a hundred pages, you don't know anything more about whether TIA will work or whether your civil liberties will be safe against it," said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "DARPA is constantly trying to assuage privacy concerns. Their mantra is, 'We always operate within current law.'"
And again, there is a reason why that is so: the specific information that they want to know does not exist yet. The point of an R&D program is to find out if it'll work. After that, they can figure out how to deploy it. The project hadn't even completed that first step by that time.

------------------------------------------------

So, with all those facts laid out, I will reiterate my earlier opinion, with some minor modifications (mostly that it is better substantiated than it was before so I can be more forceful in my wording):

1. The privacy concerns here are largely a product of people's imaginations. Worse, many people are reading opinions and taking them as facts - partially due to the way the news is reported and then re-reported and re-reported in a whisper-down-the-lane fashion where the distinction between opinion and fact is lost.

2. Imagined or not, the privacy concerns need to be paid attention to and the program needs to be monitored. I considered leaving this one out since it is almost uselessly general (every program needs to be monitored, of course), but left it in for clarity.

3. In its current (at the time it was cancelled - I'm not sure of the current status), unfinished form as a research project there is nothing at all wrong with this program. It should be researched, and after it is deterimined if the general idea can work, it can be determined what specific types of information would work (ie, they may find that phone records were helpful but emails were not). Then they can submit a report on that and let Congress debate the real intent of the program instead of the imagined/hypothetical intent.

4. If the acquired data would have privacy implications (ie, adding airline reservations to the database would, adding your police record to the database would not), these could be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
SOS2008
#56
Mar7-06, 03:37 PM
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The TIA systems program supports a variety of technology efforts covering areas such as data mining, link analysis, human language translation and biometrics. Other related research areas seek to develop systems and tools to help analysts sift through large volumes of data for meaningful patterns and clues. The results of these various research programs will feed the TIA systems effort, which is a transition point for new technologies. Popp notes that any shortfalls found within the program will be addressed using appropriate commercial and government technology solutions.

The IAO’s focus is not on collecting and disseminating conventional intelligence data, Popp emphasizes. While interested in providing analysts with different tools to process and exploit traditional information, the office seeks to collect other types of data such as unstructured text on Web sites or tracking and identifying patterns in communications, financial, travel and housing transactions. However, major challenges exist in collecting this data, much of which resides in the private sector. Because privacy laws restrict the federal government’s ability to access private commercial data without a specific court order, DARPA researchers are developing technologies that exploit a combination of traditional intelligence sources and other types of transactional information to locate potential terrorist activity.
http://www.afcea.org/signal/articles...asp?a=113&z=31

And a 2003 Report for Congress:

Summary

This report describes the Total Information Awareness (TIA) programs in the Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Department of Defense, and related information access, collection, and protection laws. TIA is a new technology underdevelopment that plans to use data mining technologies to sift through personal transactions in electronic data to find patterns and associations connected to terrorist threats and activities. Data mining technologies are currently used by federal agencies for various purposes. DARPA has underway a five year research project to develop and integrate information technologies into prototype systems to identify foreign terrorists for use by intelligence, counterintelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities. Recent increase and awareness about the existence of the TIA project provoked expressions of concern about the potential for the invasion of privacy of law-abiding citizens by the Government, and about the direction of the project by John Poindexter, a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair. While the law enforcement and intelligence communities argue that more sophisticated information gathering techniques are essential to combat today's sophisticated terrorists, civil libertarians worry that the Government's increased capability to assemble information will result in increased and unchecked government power, and the erosion of individual privacy. A coalition of public interest groups has asked Congress to intervene.
http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:...s&ct=clnk&cd=7

Note that this last source is dated 2003. The program has been common knowledge and controversial for some time--so why is Bush launching investigation into the leak about the NSA? Because he wants to pressure (with harassing interviews and threatening letters) anyone who may testify to the illegal nature of this program.

There's no chance that the National Security Agency's domestic wiretapping initiative would have saved the lives of 3,000 American citizens if an intelligence memo titled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside US" that President Bush received a month before 9/11 couldn't move Bush to take such threats seriously.

...During the summer of 2001, the counter-terrorism officers who were privy to intelligence reports on al-Qaeda threats "were so worried about an impending disaster that they considered resigning and going public with their concerns," according to a 9/11 Commission staff report released publicly in March 2004.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/013106J.shtml

Too bad they didn't go public.
SOS2008
#57
Mar7-06, 09:43 PM
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Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe
Concerning their primary purpose they have no need for warrants. Warrants to spy on people in other countries would be a rather inane endevour. My point being that so many people seem to be up in arms about this organization prying away at their right to privacy. Yet it's the very purpose of the organization to do just that except to people in other countries. Essentially we have hired these people to do to others what we apparently destest being done to us.

So do our principles falter once we leave our borders or does anyone have some way of reconciling this apparent hypocracy?
I didn't understand your point at first, that surveillance without a warrant is illegal within the U.S., so why not be consistent in how we treat other countries as well? The way we treat "our own" versus potential adversaries who may wish to do harm to us are two different scenarios. That is part of the issue -- first that of treating our own citizens as potential enemies by spying on them. And second, we need intelligence but it should collected according to international law and treaties. We shouldn't have secret prisons where suspects are tortured for information. But electronic surveillance of what is going on in other parts of the world, whether satellite or what have you, most certainly we should, and must.
TheStatutoryApe
#58
Mar7-06, 10:10 PM
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Quote Quote by SOS
The way we treat "our own" versus potential adversaries who may wish to do harm to us are two different scenarios. That is part of the issue -- first that of treating our own citizens as potential enemies by spying on them.
There are no potential adversaries in this country that may mean to do harm to it? And why should we treat them any differently whether they come from our country or another?

Quote Quote by SOS
And second, we need intelligence but it should collected according to international law and treaties.
I'm not sure what treaties and international law say about spying countries spying upon one another. If we have a treaty with a country and can trust them then we have no reason to spy on them and I have a hard time believing that the UN set up laws on what is and is not ok when spying on one another. If such laws exist I am sure they are being broken because they really defeat the point of something like the NSA.

Quote Quote by SOS
But electronic surveillance of what is going on in other parts of the world, whether satellite or what have you, most certainly we should, and must.
But again how, in principle, do you abide the idea that we can go ahead and do things to them that we will not tolerate done to us? How would you feel about England spying on US citizens, reading their e-mails, listening to their phone calls, tracking their bank records, checking their medical files, ect?
SOS2008
#59
Mar8-06, 01:18 AM
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This just in:

G.O.P. Senators Say Accord is Set on Wiretapping
New York Times
March 8, 2006

Moving to tamp down Democratic calls for an investigation of the administration's domestic eavesdropping program, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that they had reached agreement with the White House on proposed bills to impose new oversight...
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The proposed bill would allow the president to authorize wiretapping without seeking a warrant for up to 45 days if the communication under surveillance involved someone suspected of being a member of or a collaborator with a specified list of terrorist groups and if at least one party to the conversation was outside the United States.
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The proposed legislation would create a seven-member "terrorist surveillance subcommittee" and require the administration to give it full access to the details of the program's operations.
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Republicans on the committee, however, emphasized the administration's resistance to the accord...
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/08/po...rtner=homepage

First, why isn't 72 hours enough time to come up with enough probable cause for a warrant, and if it's not enough time, why increase this to friggin' 45 days? Second, who will be the seven members on the subcommittee--will it be all Republican? Third, why should these concessions prevent investigation into possible breaking of the law prior to this? And fourth, why was the White House so reluctant to agree to these concessions, which appear to be very favorable?

Excuse me while I contact my congressmen regarding these very questions...
loseyourname
#60
Mar8-06, 03:44 AM
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Quote Quote by SOS2008
First, why isn't 72 hours enough time to come up with enough probable cause for a warrant, and if it's not enough time, why increase this to friggin' 45 days? Second, who will be the seven members on the subcommittee--will it be all Republican? Third, why should these concessions prevent investigation into possible breaking of the law prior to this?
You actually don't even need probable cause for a FISA warrant, just "reasonable suspicion." Take the legalese for what you will, but my understanding is that there does not have to be any demonstration that the person under surveillance is engaged in criminal activity, just that he is a member of an organization under investigation and that tapping him might provide useful information. All of which further begs the question of why on earth the administration wants to carry out investigations without warrants when it's so damn easy to get a warrant already.

What is the 72 hours figure you're citing? Is that the normal span of time between search and notification in a delayed-notice search warrant? Or is there actually some provision already in place whereby a law enforcement or intelligence official can carry out a wiretap without a warrant for 72 hours?
turbo
#61
Mar8-06, 05:54 AM
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Quote Quote by loseyourname
What is the 72 hours figure you're citing? Is that the normal span of time between search and notification in a delayed-notice search warrant? Or is there actually some provision already in place whereby a law enforcement or intelligence official can carry out a wiretap without a warrant for 72 hours?
Under the provisions of FISA, the government can use all the intelligence methods at its disposal to spy on you, and can do so for 72 hours before notifying the FISA court, which approves about 99% of all requests, from what I can determine. The standard is set very low - the AG's office only needs to state that they suspect you of being an agent of a foreign entity. The reason that the Bushies want to side-step even this modest requirement is that they want to cast a much wider net, and they cannot do this under the oversight of the FISA court, since it would be pretty hard to prove that hundreds of millions of US citizens are agents of foreign powers.


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