The Pentagon's Total Information Awareness Program Evokes Specter of Big Brother
Interview with Gabe Rottman, of the American Civil Liberties Union, conducted by Between The Lines'Scott Harris
One week before President Bush signed legislation creating the new Department of Homeland Security, several developments in the courts and at the Pentagon served to alarm civil liberties activists across the country. The secret U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review granted the Justice Department sweeping new powers to employ electronic surveillance to prosecute U.S. citizens in criminal matters. But even more alarming to many, was the Defense Department's announcement of a new data collection system called the Total Information Awareness Program.
Total Information Awareness is described as a prototype database being developed by the Pentagon to detect "patterns indicative of terrorist activity," by tracking all purchases made by every U.S. citizen. But progressive and conservative critics of the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 attack on civil liberties assert that this new program is nothing short of an Orwellian nightmare come true. Further stoking fears of the potential abuse of such a system was the naming of Rear Admiral John Poindexter to head the project. Poindexter, who served as National Security Advisor to President Reagan, was convicted in 1990 of misleading Congress and making false statements in the Iran-Contra scandal, a conviction later overturned on a technicality.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Gabe Rottman with the American Civil Liberties Union, who discusses concerns shared by a wide spectrum of activists that elements of the Bush administration's anti-terror program threatens critical provisions of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Contact the ACLU by calling (202) 254-9375 or visit their Web site at: www.aclu.org
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