Total Information Awareness Lives:
The National Journal has the scoop.
te (mail):
Don't they know that disclosing this will only give aid and comfort to those evil terrorists?
2.24.2006 9:18pm
Eric Muller (www):
I'm not at all concerned, as I'm very confident that they're only finding stuff about about Really Bad Guys.
2.24.2006 9:22pm
Noah Klein (mail):
I am very glad that this program is still in place. What bad can come from the government knowing all information about every single person in the country?

2.24.2006 9:58pm
George Gregg (mail):
Outrage fatigue begins to set in, at this point...
2.24.2006 10:21pm
I never really liked the 4th ammendment anyway...
2.24.2006 10:22pm
Humble Law Student:
live long and prosper
2.24.2006 10:25pm
Defending the Indefensible:
This is one of those "other" program the Attorney General was not talking about when he was explaining the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" to the Senate.
2.24.2006 10:49pm
Eeeeeek, the TIA mouse, lift up your skirts and jump up on the chair!

I wonder how many people who are outraged at the idea of TIA even know how much information about them is readily available - and used - by commercial data mining operations. What do they know about you? Is it accurate? What if criminals buy your data from them?

I wonder if TIA isn't just a better version of this:

Lawyers for EPIC sought the information after seeing news reports and obtaining documents that indicate at least six federal law enforcement agencies buy personal information from database companies.

The companies include ChoicePoint Inc., which gathers and sells information for purposes ranging from employment background checks to insurance fraud investigations, and Experian, which claims to have information gathered from "hundreds of public and proprietary sources" on 215 million consumers.

The Privacy Act of 1974 banned federal agencies from collecting personal information about individuals unless they are actively investigating the individual. But no such prohibitions apply to database companies.

The companies collect data from a wide range of commercial and government sources, such as credit card records, motor vehicle and property records, license records, marriage and divorce data, bankruptcy and other court databases, product warranty registrations, loan applications and other sources.

Government agencies that buy the information include the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, according to EPIC.
2.24.2006 11:38pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
It's OK for private companies to do it, and for individuals to do it, and for foreign governments to do it, and maybe even state and local governments. But it's not OK for the federal government to do it.
2.25.2006 3:03am
KMAJ (mail):
I find the feigned outrage to be interesting. Not one concern about the leak, that is what is almost scary. So many willing to jump the shark without any real information. No one knows what these programs are, what they may be used for or how, yet we hear visions of Big Brother dancing like sugarplums in some heads. It is not information that is the biggest threat to controlling people, unless you are a criminal, it is control of your wallet or pocketbook and making you reliant on government for your subsistence that really controls. Control the money and you control the people. Allow them to keep enough to create the illusion of freedom, and they will never know, it's the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society and their proffered 'communal good'.
2.25.2006 3:54am
Ross Levatter (mail):
KMAJ says, apparently without any intention at irony:

"It is not information that is the biggest threat to controlling people, unless you are a criminal, it is control of your wallet or pocketbook and making you reliant on government for your subsistence that really controls. Control the money and you control the people. Allow them to keep enough to create the illusion of freedom, and they will never know, it's the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society and their proffered 'communal good'." KMAJ's worldview, it seems, the government can come upon you as a highwayman and say, "Your money or (all the information about) your life" and KMAJ think's his money is the important thing to protect. That is a great insight, though not about the threat of an overwheening government. It is a great insight about KMAJ himself, his lack of insight, his distaste of autonomy.
2.25.2006 4:23am
KMAJ (mail):

Quite the analyst du jour, I wouldn't quit your day job. While certainly it was a simplistic point, instead of a dissertation, your prognostic abilities must be legendary to draw such non-tangential and incoherent conclusions. I'll clue you in, Ross, just to make it easy for you, I don't like socialism. I don't believe in the nanny state. I made a basic economic statement, it was not about 'my' money. Without economic freedom, social freedom is an illusion. But I must have struck a nerve, as I did not mention anyone in particular in that statement, just expressed a socio-economic point of view. Maybe it is your responses need to attack that tells us more about you ? Now if you care to try to make an on point rebuttal where you can prove otherwise, I would be happy to hear it. How do you think communism works ? The point was your freedom is threatened more by high taxes than it is by information being known, unless you have something to hide. And Bush should be smacked in the head for some of his irresponsible fiscal policies.
2.25.2006 5:18am
KMAJ (mail):
My apologies to all, including Ross, for my acerbic retort. I should have shown more restraint to the provocation.

For those who don't like to be bored by the minutiae of micro and macro economic theory, I recommend this site:

Grandfather Economic Report

Don't just take my recommendation:

Dr. Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize winner for excellence in economics, said in various letters: "I certainly commend you for the Grandfather Report and for the imaginative way in which you have displayed data highly relevant to very important issues. I am impressed. Your objective is one I fully endorse. Your charts and analyses are excellent. Very well done. I congratulate you and applaud your continuing effort."
2.25.2006 5:45am

I think you will find a lot of people here who believe strongly in economic freedom and see the government as presenting a threat to economic freedom. But many of those same people will also be concerned about the government possessing "total information" about people. In short, there is no rule which says you can only be concerned about one of these things at a time.
2.25.2006 8:54am
Ross Levatter (mail):

As Medis notes, many people, certainly myself and the man you reference, Nobelist Friedman, believe that civil liberties AND economic liberties are vital to human freedom and both are threatened by governments. See his classic Capitalism &Freedom. I'm confident Dr. Friedman would be as apalled as I by a government that, while willing to cut back on taxes a bit, needed to know all the data (including, if it helps you see the point, your financial data) that make up your life.

To make it clear, I completely AGREE with your point about the deleterious effect of welfare, "foreign aid", and high taxes. I simply think, as totalitarianism goes, it's hard to imagine a night-watchman state that knows EVERYTHING about you.
2.25.2006 9:35am
Defending the Indefensible:
There is a name for a regulated surveillance state with "private" property.
2.25.2006 12:53pm
Defending the Indefensible:
By KMAJ's lights, Sweden must be the most oppressive state in the world.
2.25.2006 12:56pm
Justin (mail):
Didn't Congress, post AUMF, block the authorization of the TIA. How exactly is this not an impeachable offense?
2.25.2006 1:00pm
A Blogger:
I believe Congress defunded it from the unclassified side of the DOD budget, and then just put it in the classified side. Nothing impeachable, just the usual sneakiness.
2.25.2006 1:22pm

Incidentally, I assume you are a strong critic of the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress, given the massive and consistent increases in federal government spending under their leadership.
2.25.2006 1:37pm
Justin (mail):
"I believe Congress defunded it from the unclassified side of the DOD budget, and then just put it in the classified side. Nothing impeachable, just the usual sneakiness."

Do you have any evidence to support this?
2.25.2006 2:01pm
JGR (mail):
Wired magazine had an article a while ago in which they pointed out the fatuous nature of this public debate. Almost all the information that we are talking about is already being collected, sorted and stored by private agencies. Prior to 9/11, government agencies that were prohibited from possessing or storing certain types of information would simply outsource to a private agency that had no legal restraints. Does this make anyone feel better?
You can support greater privacy laws for consumers against corporations and other people; Or You can support abolishing those protections. But the current dichotomy is simply stupid - As if government agencies can't or won't have access to info that the neighborhood blue-collar worker will soon have access to if he has a hundred bucks.
2.25.2006 2:46pm
widget (mail):

The total listed budgets for Topsail, Genoa II, Basketball, etc., sum to something like $25-30 million over a few years. These aren't exactly giant programs. Trailblazer, which was (and maybe still is) one of NSA's big modernation programs (it was to help the agency to quickly sort through boat loads of information) was estimated at ~$1.2 billion.

Given that these rather small budgetary figures are just about all the hard data we have on the programs, I would be reluctant to pass judgment on this too quickly... for either side.
2.25.2006 3:33pm
Defending the Indefensible:

Fortunately we know that all expenditures by the NSA are carefully listed for public review.
2.25.2006 3:58pm
More on the issue of the NSA possibly using commercial data mining techniques.
2.25.2006 6:33pm
KMAJ (mail):

I have serious concerns about some of Bush's fiscal policies. He has put himself in a Catch 22, the tax cuts have stimulated the economy and increased tax revenues, but without reining in spending, it becomes a no win situation. You can;'t raise taxes without hurting the economy, which would decrease revenues. The only solution is to rein in spending, and Bush has been weak, actually non-existent, in wielding the veto to do so, and Congress hasn't been much better. I wish democrats provided a viable option, but their attachment to entitlement programs, unwillingness to reform them and penchant for raising taxes, makes them as an option untenable.

Friedman is a strong believer in tax cuts as a way to force government to rein in spending. At what point does Congress become responsible and do so ? I don't think democrats would do any better, except to cut defense and intelligence spending to pay for entitlement spending. That is a dangerous trade-off.


I think to jump the gun on leaks of classified information is short-sighted. None of us knows what these programs entail or how they are being used. I would assume, as with the NSA program, the intelligence committees know about them, and they had raised no warning signs. It is for that reason that I find the leaks more troublesome than the programs they leaked about.
2.26.2006 1:10am
KMAJ (mail):

Capitalism and Freedom is an excellent book, even if a little dry, if you liked that, you have to read Free to Choose, it had more of an impact on my views on economics, government and politics.
2.26.2006 1:37am