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[] NYT 16.01.03: Planned Databank On Citizens Spurs Opposition In Congress,

New York Times
January 16, 2003

Planned Databank On Citizens Spurs Opposition In Congress

By John Schwartz

Opposition is growing in Congress and among public interest groups to a 
domestic antiterrorism surveillance program being developed in the Defense 

The program, known as Total Information Awareness, would mine the databases 
of American telephone, financial and travel companies, retailers and other 
concerns for patterns that suggest terrorist activity.

In the Senate yesterday, Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, spoke against the 
system and introduced an amendment to the omnibus spending bill that would 
suspend money for the program until Congress gave it a full review.

The program, Mr. Wyden said, "really cries out for some oversight, some 
accountability and some sensitivity to procedural protections and 
constitutional rights."

Another senator, Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, meanwhile, 
planned to introduce separate legislation today that would suspend the 
program until Congress reviewed it, a spokesman for Mr. Feingold said 

On Tuesday, a coalition of nine public interest groups from across the 
political spectrum wrote to Congressional leaders, asking them to rein in 
the system, which is overseen by John M. Poindexter, who was national 
security adviser under President Ronald Reagan.

The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the American 
Conservative Union, said the surveillance program "would put the details of 
Americans' daily lives under the scrutiny of government agents, opening the 
door to a massive domestic surveillance system." The letter urged that 
Congress stop the system or at least delay it for "a closer look."

James X. Dempsey, executive director of the Center for Democracy and 
Technology, a nonprofit group in Washington that is concerned with civil 
liberties in the digital age and a member of the coalition, said the Bush 
administration had not explained how it planned to use the data. "We 
haven't begun to understand this," Mr. Dempsey said.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative 
group, said concerns about privacy transcended notions of liberal and 
conservative. "This goes back to the founding fathers warning us that if we 
wanted to keep our liberty, we had to take it seriously," Mr. Norquist said.

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