Pentagon System Hopes to Identify Walks: "Watch your step! The Pentagon is developing a radar-based device that can identify people by the way they walk, for use in a new antiterrorist surveillance system. ... If the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, orders a prototype, the individual 'gait signatures' of people could become part of the data to be linked together in a vast surveillance system the Pentagon agency calls Total Information Awareness." (May 19, 03 -,1282,-2694090,00.html)

The DARPA Information Awareness Office (This is old but still relevant information. During the Clinton administration, Since Pointdexter's program was closed, the link is obsolete): "The key to fighting terrorism is information. Elements of the solution include gathering a much broader array of data than we do currently, discovering information from elements of the data, creating models of hypotheses, and analyzing these models in a collaborative environment...." Complaints led to the removal of the TIA symbol: the masonic, all-seeing eye in the pyramid. Representing the new world order, it covered the planet with its enlightening rays. See the meaning of the eye in the pyramid at Symbols and their meaning 

repeat Surveillance. The DARPA Information Awareness Office: (This old link from last year is now obsolete)  "The key to fighting terrorism is information. Elements of the solution include gathering a much broader array of data than we do currently, discovering information from elements of the data, creating models of hypotheses, and analyzing these models in a collaborative environment...." Complaints led to the removal of the TIA symbol: the masonic, all-seeing eye in the pyramid. Representing the new world order, it covered the planet with its enlightening rays. See Symbols and their meaning  


Total Information Awareness

The US Information Awareness Office's goal is to turn all personal records in cyberspace —tax, travel, shopping, credit card, medical, security video tapes, and all the email that's ever been sent—into a huge database that electronic robots will mine for patterns suggestive of terrorist activity.

Total Information Awareness is a Department of Defense (DoD) program to develop a "grand database" to spy on American citizens. The project, Admiral John Poindexter's brainchild, aims to track everything from credit card purchases, gun ownership, tollbooth records, cell phone records, hotel reservations to movie rentals -- and more. All of these records will be collected without a search warrant or even probable cause.

The avowed goal of Total Information Awareness is to survail "financial, education, travel, medical, veterinary, country entry, transportation, housing, government, critical resources and communications". See this chart which previously graced the Information Awareness Office Web site for more on these categories.

In the old days, when a nation wanted to create a police state, they had to recruit large numbers of citizen-informers -- like the Stasi did in East Germany and John Ashcroft tried to do with TIPS. Since TIPS didn't work, our government has turned to technology to help them manage the civilian population -- and Total Information Awareness is their solution.

What we must remember is that the Constitution was written to constrain the government because "absolute power corrupts absolutely". The Information Awareness Office, the group spearheading the TIA project, has a motto: "Scientia est Potentia". It translates to "Knowledge is Power". Yes, it is power. It also corrupts absolutely.

John Poindexter doesn't need to be corrupted by power, though -- he's already been corrupted. Mr. Poindexter was indicted on March 16, 1988 on seven federal felony charges stemming from the Iran-Contra scandal. He stood trial for five charges and was found guilty on April 7, 1990 on all five counts. Mr. Poindexter was convicted of conspiracy (obstruction of congressional inquiries and proceedings, false statements, falsification, destruction and removal of documents); two counts of obstruction of Congress and two counts of false statements.

US District Judge Harold H. Greene sentenced Poindexter to six months in prison on each count, served concurrently. On November 15, 1991, a three judge appeals panel overturned Poindexter's convictions on the grounds that his testimony before Congress -- which was given under immunity -- may have influenced the testimony of witnesses against him. Warblogging has posted a detailed biography of Mr. Poindexter to show him what Total Information Awareness means.

The Total Information Awareness project must surely be stopped.

What Terrorism Is and Is Not - A Problem of Definition: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as: "...the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
The U.S. Department of State: "...'terrorism' [is] premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine state agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
The Department of Defense: "The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or try to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."
       "...The definitions of terrorism used by U.S. Government Departments and Agencies are applicable to all forms of political violence. To conclude, terrorism has two components: political objectives and fear from violence."
See Trading U.S. Rights for UN Rules



by Hendrik Hertzberg
Issue of 2002-12-09
Posted 2002-12-02
When it comes to concocting fevered visions of the future as a way of illuminating the present, Jules Verne got some things right in his time, Aldous Huxley got others, and George Orwell got still others. In our time—in this terror-haunted interlude (we hope) of background-hum dread and well-founded paranoia—no literary divinator gets it righter than the sci-fi pulp master Philip K. Dick, author of "Clans of the Alphane Moon" and dozens of other books, and inspirer of some of Hollywood's spookiest dystopias, including "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," and "Minority Report." And this is odd, given that he has been dead for twenty years. Too bad he's not still around. It would be interesting to get his take on the Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense.

The Information Awareness Office plays it so weird that one can't help suspecting that somebody on its staff might be putting us on. The Information Awareness Office's official seal features an occult pyramid topped with mystic all-seeing eye, like the one on the dollar bill. Its official motto is "Scientia Est Potentia," which doesn't mean "science has a lot of potential." It means "knowledge is power." And its official mission is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness."

The phrase "total information awareness" is creepy enough to merit a place alongside "USA Patriot Act" and "Department of Homeland Security," but it is not the Information Awareness Office's only gift to the language. The "example technologies" which the Office intends to develop include "entity extraction from natural language text," "biologically inspired algorithms for agent control," and "truth maintenance." One of the Office's thirteen subdivisions, the Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) program, is letting contracts not only for "Face Recognition" and "Iris Recognition" but also for "Gait Recognition." (Tony Blair has pledged the full coöperation of the Ministry of Silly Walks.) Another of the thirteen, FutureMap, "will concentrate on market-based techniques for avoiding surprise and predicting future events"—a sounder approach, ideologically, than regulation-based liberal soothsaying.

The Information Awareness Office is working on some really cool stuff that will eventually turn up at Brookstone and the Sharper Image, like a Palm Pilot-size PDA that does instantaneous English-Arabic and English-Chinese translations. But the Office's main assignment is, basically, to turn everything in cyberspace about everybody—tax records, driver's-license applications, travel records, bank records, raw F.B.I. files, telephone records, credit-card records, shopping-mall security-camera videotapes, medical records, every e-mail anybody ever sent—into a single, humongous, multi-googolplexibyte database that electronic robots will mine for patterns of information suggestive of terrorist activity. Dr. Strangelove's vision—"a chikentic gomplex of gumbyuders"—is at last coming into its own.

It's easy to ridicule this—fun, too, and fun is something the war on terrorism doesn't offer a lot of—but it's not so easy to dismiss the possibility that the project, nutty as it sounds, might actually be of significant help in uncovering terrorist networks. The problem is that it would also be of significant help in uncovering just about everything, including the last vestiges of individual and family privacy. This is why William Safire wrote the other day that the program should simply be shut down, as was Attorney General Ashcroft's Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), which was going to enlist postal workers and the like as amateur spies.

At a minimum, a temporary shutdown, pending some sort of congressional review and the creation of safeguards, would seem to be in order. It will take years for total information awareness to get beyond the prototype stage. But if a working system ever does get up and running, you won't have to be Philip K. Dick to imagine the possibilities for mischief, especially if carelessness, to say nothing of malevolence, enters the picture. But not to worry. "The privacy of individuals not affiliated with terrorism" will be protected via "technologies for controlling automated search and exploitation algorithms and for purging data structures appropriately."

And who is offering this highly reassuring assurance? Why, the Director of the Information Awareness Office, John M. Poindexter, that's who. The Office's Web site offers biographical sketches of the new agency's principal bureaucrats—or did offer them until the night of November 26th, when they mysteriously disappeared. Poindexter's is, or was, in the form of a résumé, of exactly the kind one would submit to a prospective corporate employer. It is a model of the genre: two crisp pages, neatly typed, no oddball fonts. The career it describes—Caltech Ph.D., flag-rank naval officer, White House senior staffer, high-tech business executive—is impressive. On the other hand, the information provided falls somewhat short of total. The passage concerning Poindexter's stint as Ronald Reagan's national-security adviser concludes as follows:

Major events in which he played a significant role included: Strategic Defense Initiative, Grenada Rescue Operation, Achille Lauro incident, Libyan Operation to respond to terrorist attacks, Reykjavik Summit with Soviets, peaceful transition of government in the Philippines, support for the democratic resistance in Nicaragua, and an attempt to begin rationalization of U.S. relationship with strategically important Iran.

Cryptologists will detect in the last two items a reference to what made Poindexter, for a time, famous: the scheme to sell arms secretly to the mullahs of Iran and use the proceeds to get around a congressional ban on funding the anti-Sandinista guerrillas of Nicaragua. Poindexter's role in what became the messiest political scandal of the nineteen-eighties got him convicted of five felonies (including two counts of lying to Congress) and sentenced to six months in the federal penitentiary. He was saved from jail by an appeals-court ruling that his trial had been tainted by his own testimony, given under a grant of immunity, before a congressional committee. The facts of the case, however, stand. So does the conclusion of the trial judge, Harold H. Greene, that Poindexter's actions traduced the principle "that those elected by and responsible to the people shall make the important policy decisions, and that their decisions may not be nullified by appointed officials who happen to be in positions that give them the ability to operate programs prohibited by law."

But even when intentions are good, as conservatives should know, it's not enough. (The F.B.I. was supposed to be a bunch of clean-cut guys chasing bank robbers, but by the mid-sixties it was putting tape recorders under Martin Luther King's bed and urging him to commit suicide.) We may not always have a leader as punctilious about civil liberties as President Bush—and even he has some people around him (Poindexter, for one; Ashcroft, for another) whose devotion to the Bill of Rights sometimes seems shaky. Maybe the Administration needs to catch up on its sci-fi reading. Philip K. meant his dark visions as warnings, not as bureaucratic charters for George W. Unfortunately, Bush doesn't know Dick.