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[] TIAO: Donald Rumsfeld as Big Brother - Washington Times,

Mir scheint, das Total Information Awareness Office wird gerade die
Lieblingszielscheibe der liberalen Journalisten in den USA (wobei die WP
sogar nicht einmal ein liberales Blatt ist).
Ob das TIAO so enden wird wie das Office of Strategic Influence -
offiziell begraben, aber unter anderem Namen und mit niedrigem Profil

Washington Times
December 16, 2002   

Donald Rumsfeld as Big Brother

by Nat Hentoff

     It's not John Ashcroft ? the usual target of liberal
and conservative civil libertarians ? who is responsible for the Bush
administration's most controversial assault so far on the privacy of
millions of Americans. That operation is nestled in Donald Rumsfeld's
Defense Department.

     Without an official public notice or congressional
hearing, the Defense Department's Information Awareness Office ?
directed by retired Navy Adm. John Poindexter ? is creating an
omnivorous "centralized grand database" that, as The Washington Times
reported on Nov. 15, "would be authorized to collect every type of
public and private data," not only on immigrants and visitors, but on
American citizens ? all without judicial warrants.

     By mining commercial and government databases, the Total
Information Awareness program, when functioning, will scoop up medical
records, telephone calls, the pay-per-view movies you order,
prescription purchases, travel reservations, passport applications,
records of divorces, court appearances and practically any piece of
electronically recorded information about you.

     Phil Kent, president of the conservative Southeast Legal
Foundation, calls this actualization in real time of George Orwell's
"1984" the "most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the
Japanese-American internment."

     Orwell, who died in 1950, could not have 
envisioned the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology that
may lead to the end of any expectation of privacy. As Orwell prophesized
in his novel, "How often, or in what system, the Thought Police plugged
in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that
they watched everybody all the time."

     On ABC-TV's Nov. 14 edition of "Nightline," Ted Koppel
distilled the rising apprehension among both liberals and conservatives
about this electronic dragnet that is symbolized in the emblem displayed
by Mr. Poindexter's office. The symbol was described in the Nov. 12
Washington Post as an eye that "looms over a pyramid and appears to scan
the world. The motto reads: 'Scienta Est Potentia' or 'Knowledge Is
Power.'" That is, knowledge about all of us.

     "Since all of this information is gathered privately, is
used privately, is assessed privately by officials in the government who
are accountable to no one for this information," asked Mr. Koppel, "how
do you know how it's being used?"

     How do you know whether it's being used on you?

     When Congress returns in January, will there be hearings
on this government eye that never sleeps? Will the press stay on this
story to ensure that congressional oversight committees question Mr.
Poindexter and his boss, Mr. Rumsfeld (who has so far hardly been
mentioned in the alarms being sounded around the country)?

     After all, this vast collection of mostly very personal
data will be shared by all the government intelligence agencies and is
being assembled under Mr. Rumsfeld's watch. Perhaps one of the
Washington reporters regularly beguiled by the defense secretary's witty
televised press conferences will give Mr. Rumsfeld a copy of "1984."

     I find curious the usually astute defense secretary's
lack of political acumen in enlisting Mr. Poindexter to facilitate the
Total Information Awareness program. As Georgetown law professor
Jonathan Turley noted in the Nov. 17 Los Angeles Times, Mr. Poindexter
was convicted of lying to Congress and deep-sixing documents in the
Iran-Contra scandal (the conviction was later overturned on a
technicality), "the criminal conspiracy to sell arms to a terrorist
nation, Iran, in order to surreptitiously fund an unlawful clandestine
project in Nicaragua . . . . As a man convicted of falsifying and
destroying information, he will now be put in charge of gathering
information on every citizen."

     Yet, Mr. Turley added, "when asked about Mr. Poindexter's
prior criminal conduct, President Bush released a statement that he
believed 'Adm. Poindexter has served the nation very well.'"

     Who is watching the watchers over us all?

     A great loss to those of us concerned about the rapidly
diminishing right to privacy was Republican Conservative Bob Barr's
failed congressional re-election bid. That insistent civil libertarian
regards the Pentagon's prospective all-seeing eye as "outrageous."

     Mr. Barr is now a consultant to the American Civil
Liberties Union on a six-month contract, along with retiring House
Majority Leader Dick Armey, another conservative libertarian. Both are
even more needed at the Defense Department. It is because of Mr. Armey
that "Operation Tips," allowing Americans to spy on each other in their
daily lives, was not in the Homeland Security Department law signed by
the president. He stripped it out.

     Since the Bush administration is creating this truly
Orwellian invasion of the privacy of all of us, it is up to us to insist
that Congress repudiate it before it is beyond our control. We are the
people of the Constitution.


Nat Hentoff is a columnist for The Washington Times. His column runs on

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