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[] DN 13.03.03: Defense Official Says Pentagon Will Not Use TIA,
March 13, 2003

Defense Official Says Pentagon Will Not Use Total Information Awareness

By William Matthews

The U.S. Defense Department will continue developing, but will not use, the 
super-snooping technology it has designed to collect and analyze personal 
information about individuals, a senior defense official told House 
lawmakers March 13.

When the Total Information Awareness system is ready for use, the military 
will turn it over to civilian law enforcement agencies, promised Paul 
McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland security.

The Defense Department does not intend to operate the system because its 
intrusive capabilities are incompatible with laws that ban military 
involvement in domestic law enforcement, he told the House Subcommittee on 
Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities.

But the military is the only government agency capable of building the 
complex, high-technology system, he said.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a computerized 
system to mine vast warehouses of electronic data for information that 
identifies terrorist activity. The system would sift through public and 
private databases, examining such electronic records as phone calls, 
airline flights, credit card purchases, visa applications, medical 
treatments, financial transactions and other activities, looking for 
patterns that might reveal terrorism.

McHale acknowledged that the Total Information Awareness program has been a 
matter of considerable debate.

The Total Information Awareness program has alarmed civil liberties 
organizations because it would give the government unprecedented capability 
to pry into the private lives of individuals. It is also controversial 
because the program is run by retired Adm. John Poindexter, a national 
security advisor during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. 
Poindexter was convicted of lying to Congress, destroying documents and 
obstructing Congress s investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal. His 
conviction later was overturned on a technicality.

McHale described the system as a potentially invaluable tool against 
terrorists. If we had credible evidence that terrorists had brought a 
weapon of mass destruction into the United States, and we couldn t locate 
it, the Total Information Awareness system could be critical to helping 
authorities find the weapon, he said.

Should we have that technology? Yes, he said. Should the Department of 
Defense operate it? No, that is not the intent, McHale said. Because of the 
system s capability to collect and analyze personal data that until 
recently has been private, the military wants civilian authorities to 
operate it, he said.

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