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