Did you realize the Pentagon will soon know
about every gun, book, magazine, Twinkie, condom and
everything else you buy? The reason for the massive database:
to seek "patterns indicative of terrorist activity," defense
officials said today.
The database will use software to analyze consumer
purchases in hopes of catching would-be terrorists, said
Edward Aldridge, undersecretary of acquisitions and
"The bottom line is this is an important research project
to determine the feasibility of using certain transactions and
events to discover and respond to terrorists before they act,"
he told reporters.
Aldridge said the database, which he called just another
"tool" in the war on terrorism, would look for Americans
exhibiting signs of suspicious behavior.
Gun Owners Beware
Examples he cited: large cash withdrawals, one-way air or
rail travel, car rentals, purchases of guns, and purchases of
items that could be used to make biological or chemical
The database, which isn't scheduled to be ready for several
years, will combine data on consumers with visa records,
passports, arrest records and reports of "suspicious activity"
given to law enforcement or intelligence services.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is in charge
of the scheme. Rear Adm. John Poindexter, former national
security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, is developing the
database under the Total Information Awareness Program.
"Poindexter was convicted on five counts of misleading
Congress and making false statements during the Iran-Contra
investigation,” Fox News Channel noted today. "Those
convictions were later overturned, but critics note that his
is a dubious resume for someone entrusted with so sensitive a
Aldridge said Poindexter would merely "develop the tool. He
will not be exercising the tool." He said Poindexter brought
the idea to the Pentagon and sold Aldridge and others on it.
"John has a real passion for this project," Aldridge said.
An editorial Saturday in the Washington Post described the
program as one to terrify the readers of George Orwell,
creator of "1984" and its all-seeing, all-knowing "Big
Brother." Aldridge said the DARPA project was no such thing,
just an experiment.
"In order to preserve the sanctity of individual privacy,
we're designing this system to ensure complete anonymity of
uninvolved citizens, thus focusing the efforts of law
enforcement officials on terrorist investigations," he
Fox News reported, "TIAF's office logo is now one eye
scanning the globe. The translation of the Latin motto:
knowledge is power. Some say, possibly too much power.”
'Nation of Suspects'
Chuck Pena, senior defense policy analyst at the
libertarian Cato Institute, said: "What this is talking about
is making us a nation of suspects, and I am sorry, the United
States citizens should not have to live in fear of their own
government, and that is exactly what this is going to turn out
"I don't think once you put something like this in place,
you can ever create enough checks and balances and oversight,"
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