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[] Congress threatens two hi-tech Gestapo programs,

By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 17/07/2003 at 09:31 GMT

The US Senate this week proposed denying funds to two Orwellian
surveillance programs sought by the Bush Administration.

The Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program has come
under attack in the Senate and may see its funding shut off. The 2004
defense appropriations bill contains a provision that would deny it
any financial support.

The House has got its own TIA obstacle in the works, but not so bold a
one as the Senate is contemplating. The two versions will likely have
to be reconciled in a conference committee, but it is a fair bet that
TIA's wings will be clipped.

Research for the Big Brother scheme is being conducted by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under the guidance of
Iran-Contra scandal alumnus and convicted felon Admiral John

The TIA program has since had its name changed from Total Information
Awareness to Terrorism Information Awareness, but for some reason this
sophisticated dodge appears not to have fooled Congress.

In a related development, the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening
System (CAPPS II), a scheme to query government and commercial
databases for background on every person attempting to buy a plane
ticket, has been held up pending a report by the General Accounting
Office (GAO), a Congressional watchdog outfit.

The scheme would have assigned a score of "green", "yellow" or "red"
to prospective passengers based on financial and other records. Greens
would get the usual pat-down and x-ray routine; yellows would be
singled out for additional security harassment; and reds would be
grounded. There appears to be no mechanism for correcting database
errors and false information if one is given an unjustly low score.
Worse, those with imperfect scores could have that information passed
on to law enforcement agencies and other bureaux of the national
security apparatus without warning and with no way to set the record
straight if the information on them should be bad.

The CAPPS II system, like its predecessor CAPPS, is a product of
Defense industry giant Lockheed Martin, a company for which US
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta served as Veep. The contract
award is in keeping with the Bush Administration's tradition of
diverting vast amounts of public money to the coffers of corporations
with ties to its chief players. ®

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