FC: William Safire on Pentagon surveillance: "You Are a Suspect!"

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Nov 14 2002 - 06:18:58 PST

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    A number of politechnicals sent this along last night, with Marc being the 
    first. He notes that EPIC has a FOIA case against the Defense Department 
    pending in federal court in Washington DC to uncover more information about 
    Poindexter and DARPA. See also:
    "Pentagon's Big Brother computer: Echelon on steroids?"
    "Pentagon wants a 'Big Brother' supercomputer, from NYT"
    And some previous columns by William Safire:
    Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 23:27:56 -0500
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    From: Marc Rotenberg <rotenbergat_private>
    Subject: Safire on TIA ("You Are a Suspect")
    November 14, 2002
    You Are a Suspect
    WASHINGTON If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before
    passage, here is what will happen to you:
    Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine
    subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web
    site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade
    your receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and
    every event you attend all these transactions and communications
    will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual,
    centralized grand database."
    To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial
    sources, add every piece of information that government has
    about you passport application, driver's license and bridge
    toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy
    neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest
    hidden camera surveillance and you have the supersnoop's dream:
    a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.
    This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will
    happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John
    Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.
    Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class at the
    Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in physics, rose to
    national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. He had
    this brilliant idea of secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay
    ransom for hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally
    support contras in Nicaragua.
    A jury convicted Poindexter in 1990 on five felony counts of
    misleading Congress and making false statements, but an appeals
    court overturned the verdict because Congress had given him
    immunity for his testimony. He famously asserted, "The buck
    stops here," arguing that the White House staff, and not the
    president, was responsible for fateful decisions that might
    prove embarrassing.
    This ring-knocking master of deceit is back again with a plan
    even more scandalous than Iran-contra. He heads the "Information
    Awareness Office" in the otherwise excellent Defense Advanced
    Research Projects Agency, which spawned the Internet and stealth
    aircraft technology. Poindexter is now realizing his 20-year
    dream: getting the "data-mining" power to snoop on every public
    and private act of every American.
    Even the hastily passed U.S.A. Patriot Act, which widened the
    scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and weakened
    15 privacy laws, raised requirements for the government to report
    secret eavesdropping to Congress and the courts. But Poindexter's
    assault on individual privacy rides roughshod over such oversight.
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