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points on poindexter

points on poindexter

Peat asked that I tackle Poindexter first and it seems like a good idea.

You are A Suspect by William Safire, NYT Nov. 14

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 you 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.

Everyone - members of the Loony left, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and all people in between - should be frightened at the prospect of Poindexter's dreams coming true.

I don't trust Poindexter. You shouldn't either. Why should we trust a man who was convicted of conspiracy, lying and frauding the government? Why should we trust the man who destroyed evidence in the Iran Contra scandal? Yes, the convictions were overturned, but only because he was granted immunity. It doesn't mean he was not guilty of those things.

Now this man is Director of the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office. He has taken "homeland security" to new heights, translating that phrase to mean "We have the right to know all."

Poindexter represents the dark side in an administration that is trying hard be the good guys. He is Darth Vader; a mouth-breathing, bitter, control freak who is probably rubbing his hands together in glee at the thought of having a database full of previously private information.

It bothers me as it is to know that when I return something to Target, I don't need a receipt because a quick swipe of my debit card through their machine will tell them everything I have ever purchased there. It bothers me that there are people who think they should have the right to know what books I check out at the local library. It bothers me that our most private information is going to play a starring role in Poindexter's wet dream.

From a speech Poindexter gave on August 2, 2002:

Total Information Awareness - a prototype system -- is our answer. We must be able to detect, classify, identify, and track terrorists so that we may understand their plans and act to prevent them from being executed. To protect our rights, we must ensure that our systems track the terrorists, and those that mean us harm.

IAO programs are focused on making Total Information Awareness - TIA -- real. This is a high level, visionary, functional view of the world-wide system - somewhat over simplified. One of the significant new data sources that needs to be mined to discover and track terrorists is the transaction space. If terrorist organizations are going to plan and execute attacks against the United States, their people must engage in transactions and they will leave signatures in this information space. This is a list of transaction categories, and it is meant to be inclusive. Currently, terrorists are able to move freely throughout the world, to hide when necessary, to find sponsorship and support, and to operate in small, independent cells, and to strike infrequently, exploiting weapons of mass effects and media response to influence governments. We are painfully aware of some of the tactics that they employ. This low-intensity/low-density form of warfare has an information signature. We must be able to pick this signal out of the noise. Certain agencies and apologists talk about connecting the dots, but one of the problems is to know which dots to connect. The relevant information extracted from this data must be made available in large-scale repositories with enhanced semantic content for easy analysis to accomplish this task. The transactional data will supplement our more conventional intelligence collection.

I am all for using technology to capture terrorists - especially if that technology will enable the terrorists to be caught before they are able to put their plans into motion. What I am not for is the government using the country's fear of terrorism as a guise to spy on every one of its citizens.

If the Homeland Security Act passes as it is written now, we are in danger of losing every privacy we know. This is not conspiracy theory talk. Look at the act. Look at Poindexter's speech. Look at Poindexter's history. Do you trust this man? More importantly, do you trust him with your most private information?

I have nothing to hide, but I don't feel the need to share the nothing I have to hide, either. No one needs to know what I am reading. Nor do they need to take what I am purchasing or listening to out of context. Connecting the dots in the wrong order can often result in ridiculous illustrations.

Glenn Reynolds has quite a few links regarding this subject, including a link to an article he wrote on what we should be doing instead.


I was reading that this morning, as well. It's frightening the extent that some people in this country actually support such Orwellian tactics. What I find more ironic than this weaselly bastard's position in the government is that Bush himself campaigned quite stridently at times on issues of privacy.

You know, a lot of the time when people use the word "Orwellian," I roll my eyes. Most of the time -- no offense meant, Annette, follow me for a sec, here -- it's used far too much by the kind of people who think there was literally an organization called Big Brother.

In this case? It's completely justified, and utterly terrifying. I'm really terrified by the thought that it really doesn't matter if I write to my representatives and tell them how object I am to this, since the track record of late shows that such things haven't mattered in recent votes.

anything that uses your social security number can already be used in this fashion--and most likely is already being used in this way.

the trick is to muddy the water. be several people and stop using your social security number as a form of ID.

you are not legally required to tell anyone in the private sector that number.

use cash
get 'shopper appreciation' cards in different names...

although, to be honest, the fact that this has been stated so publically probably means its already too late.

great post.

I know lots of people with lots of books--I don't see any way they can legally make a private group of citizens tell what books they've already purchased or borrowed from other private individuals.

I think I need to go work on my list of all the books I own, in case someone wants to borrow something. :)

So if it wasn't Poindexter who was the guy would it be any better? In other words which do you dislike more Poindexter or the fact that we have less privacy today?

The thing that strikes me is that they probably had all of this technology in place anyway, and they were probably looking anyway, it's just that now they can do so legally. It can be used in court against us now, without them needing a reason to show why they needed to see this information or be monitoring a person's private life. So those of us that have nothing to hide might not be that much worse off? Or is that totally stupid?

Thirdly, would voting liberal get our privacy back?

Honestly, I think it's too late to get our privacy back, and that is neither a liberal nor conservative issue. It is an issue of modern technology.

As for Poindexter, I don't trust him, don't like him and don't think a man so hell bent on invading our privacy that he probably bought X-ray glasses from the back of a comic book should have so much control over these issues. But I certainly can't think of anyone who would want that job that wouldn't have some power issue going on.

Like I said, it's too late. Technology has already sold us out to the highest bidder.

"Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
The Matrix

"You know, a lot of the time when people use the word "Orwellian," I roll my eyes. Most of the time -- no offense meant, Annette, follow me for a sec, here -- it's used far too much by the kind of people who think there was literally an organization called Big Brother."

No offense taken, as that's exactly how I feel as well. Too often people term something Orwellian simply because they disagree with it, without regard for anything else. It has a certain cheapening effect on times when use of the word is warranted.

aaaaaargh - michele wirtes on a politcal post and i agree - kharmic fucking shifts at 3 am
it's scary stuff, I don't know if you've been following the library legislations as well.
Goddman fucknuckles - I'll show em, start buying barbie bhurka dolls.

Security is one thing: unprecedented, untrammelled, paranoia-induced surveillance is quite another thing. Every shred of my small-L libertarian-leaning, Republican self is opposed to such a measure. Not only because it is intrusive, and wrongly so, but also because such findings often lack context.

Maybe this is the simple question:
Would you rather have technology in place that is proven to prevent another September 11th or would you rather take your chances and have more September 11ths?

Now granted, the technology might just be inevitable, or 9/11 might be the excuse given for the need for such technology--but if it was really proven that it would do good--if it, for instance prevented the loss of another 3,000 lives in an American city somewhere--would those of us that have nothing to hide be so opposed?

Or is there a better way entirely? It seems to me that the Republicans are ignoring some avenues of trying to do things a different way just to get this Homeland Security thing off the ground and are quick to at least appear like they want to pry into the lives of the everyday American citizen (so much for a smaller government--as Josh on West Wing once said--they just want to be small enough to fit inside our bedrooms. But the same could be said for library memberships etc...).

The better way might be to shore up the entities that already exist--did someone say McImmigration Services and the technology that they already have without further prying into the rest of our lives.

For instance, I read once that one of the terrorists was stopped on the highway some weeks before 9/11. Had the trooper had some vital info from the CIA on his cruiser's laptop he might have been able to report something and prevent 9/11. If that story is true, they could have done this without further invading my privacy or yours (unless you already have a dossier on you at the CIA) and at the same time prevented an act of terrorism.

So why not fix what is broken (communications in existing intelligence and government agencies, the huge problems in our INS that oh by the way might have also been able to prevent the "serial sniper" thing if it had been running correctly) instead of ignoring what is already broken and just trying to add another soon to be broken project to the heap?

One is left to answer that question with the conclusion that they simply want to have the ability to spy on everyone of us.

Of course, Michele, you might have a better answer which is why I post this manifesto here.

X-ray specs from comic book ads don't work.

These databases already exist... all that information is gathered as bytes on harddrives and tapes... but fear not, the technical challenge is not getting the data together, it's making sense of it once you have it... this announcement is, (IMHO), a scare tactic ...
when you have that much data, the indexes are the controlling factor... if the data is not stored (indexed) in just the right way, you have to know exactly what you are looking for to find anything... and the larger the dataset, the harder and longer the search will be... narrowing the list from 5 petabytes to 50 terrabytes isn't very helpful... about all that much data is good for is statistical analysis.

So, Gary is correct when he says, "X-ray specs from comic book ads don't work."

Now that the democrats are off in an irrelevant left-corner, it's time to call the republicans on their much heralded love of the constitution.

Yes, there is no such thing as privacy, as Larry Ellison has repeatedly stated, but it gives me shivers down my spine when the government is is collecting and collating it. It brings to mind the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, with it's paranoia about suspect persons. That cited article and speech make me think that the quote "I love my country, but I fear my government," could be fairly applied. sorry... I can't remember who said it

I think perhaps this is a double worry for me.

Anyone ever wonder what my last initial 'P' stood for.

Lord have mercy on me.

This administration is trying hard to be the good guy? Laugh! Oh, that's priceless, Michele. You really have bought the bullshit, haven't you?