Moratorium on Poindexter's 'surveillance' Plan
The US senate has voted to block the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) system. The curbs went through unchallenged following suggestions from Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon which were included in amendments to an omnibus spending bill.
TIA is a euphemism for computer systems able, among other things, to probe, "collections of people loosely organized in shadowy networks that are difficult to identify and define".
The man picked to run the program was convicted felon Dr. John Poindexter.
"The vote represents an unusual triumph of privacy concerns over the Bush administration's arguments that the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program would be useful for national security," says Declan McCullagh in his January 23 Senate limits Pentagon 'snooping' plan. "If fully implemented, TIA would link databases from sources such as credit card companies, medical insurers and motor vehicle agencies in hopes of snaring terrorists.
However, whether or not this "unusual triumph of privacy" will reflect the ultimate reality remains to be seen.
Work could continue if President Bush certified to Congress that the report could not be provided or that a halt "would endanger the national security of the United States," said a story by Adam Clymer in the January 23 New York Times.
For now, "Under the legislation passed today, research and development of the system would have to halt within 60 days of enactment of the bill unless the Defense Department submitted a detailed report about the program, including its costs, goals, impact on privacy and civil liberties and prospects for success in stopping terrorists," said Clymer.
"The limits on deploying, or using, the system are stricter. While it could be used to support lawful military and foreign intelligence operations, it could not be used in this country until Congress had passed new legislation specifically authorizing its use."
McCullagh quotes Wyden as stating, "The Senate has now said that this program will not be allowed to grow without tough congressional oversight and accountability, and that there will be checks on the government's ability to snoop on law-abiding Americans."