Tag Archives: total information awareness

The Stellar Wind is Blowing

Kaye Beach

March 18, 2012

 

Wired just published a whopper of an article by James Bamford on his favorite topic-the NSA.

 

Clencher quote;

The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

We are in so much trouble people.

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

 

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.

The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted.

According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.

. . .

For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.

He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”

Read on

The Department Of Homeland Security Continues the Quest for Total Information Awareness

Kaye Beach

Nov 30, 2011

Yesterday Forbes reports;

The Department Of Homeland Security Wants All The Information It Has On You Accessible From One Place

Well of course they do.  The government knows that information is power, we should remember that power is control.

“National employment databases, national medical databases, national criminal databases, and others have already been created.

The dream is to blend all these separate resources into a single centralized one…the only real impediments to creating the database that now remain are political and cultural: the stubborn assumption of so many Americans that they have rights.”

The State’s Quest for Total Information Awareness by David M. Brown

Forbes reports that the Dept. of Homeland security, not content with its creation of a national network of state Fusion Centers, it now wants its own internal fusion center so that it can take all of the information collected by its many agencies and bring it together and make it all searchable from one central location.  The Dept. of Homeland Security absorbed some 22 agencies when it was created including FEMA, the Secret Service,  TSA, Immigration and Naturalization, and much more.

The DHS wants to be able to do searches using specific personal information rather than general searches through all of this data for the purpose of identifying patterns to prevent terrorism attacks.  The data  includes work history collected from the e Verify program, travel records from the TSA, and personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, email address and other personal information acquired by DHS from a wide variety of sources including commercial databases making this prospect undeniably similar to the Total Information Awareness project that so outraged Congress and Americans that it was defunded in 2003.

Although a committee of policy and privacy experts were asked to provide feedback on this proposal, DHS signed at least one contract with Raytheon for services related to this proposal before the committee could even complete its draft of recommendations signalling that DHS intends to push this operation forward regardless of any of the legitimate concerns about constitutional, legal or privacy violations.

This system will enable DHS to create a comprehensive profile on American citizens at the push of a button,  an ability  that the government has edged closer and closer to in recent years and an ability that rightfully generates grave concerns in the minds of most Americans.

Dr. Tom Connor, Assoc Prof of Criminal Justice/Homeland Security Director, Institute for Global Security Studies writes;

“The National Strategy for Homeland Security called for connecting computer databases used in federal law enforcement, immigration, intelligence, public health surveillance, and emergency management . . .and further, DARPA’s ill-fated plan for Total Information Awareness(TIA) was to merge some of these interconnections into a data mining system of systems involving the private sector, the finance/credit system, the Internet, and other databases.

With plans such as these, the goal was to obtain the capability to track every human being on the planet at any given time.” (Emphasis mine)

The government’s goal of Total Information Awareness hasn’t changed even though path to get there has taken a few detours.

DARPA Prepares for Meme War

Kaye Beach

August 22, 2011

~Hat tip to P.H. for the RFP~

“Potent memes can change minds, alter behavior, catalyze collective mindshifts and transform cultures. Which is why meme warfare has become the geopolitical battle of our information age. Whoever has the memes has the power.”–Kalle Lasn

Here is a Request for Research Proposals issued by DARPA on July 14, 2011.

DARPA-BAA-11-64 SOCIAL MEDIA IN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION (SMISC)

“DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of social media in strategic communication. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems” pg 4

If you are wondering what is the purpose of this program, jump ahead to page 5;

“Entirely new phenomena are emerging that require thinking about social interactions in a new way. The tools that we have today for awareness and defense in the social media space are heavily dependent on chance. We must eliminate our current reliance on a combination of luck and unsophisticated manual methods by using systematic automated and semi‐automated human operator support to detect, classify, measure, track and influence events in social media at data scale and in a timely fashion.’

In a nutshell,  the US government is losing the meme war.  Due to lightning fast communication technology (such as the internet), old fashoined propaganda and methods of though and behavior control just isn’t cutting it.   DARPA is (and has been) working on a way to fix that.

A meme is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Here is an example of a meme for you.

Remember Total Information Aawreness?

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other asymmetric threats to national security, by achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA).

This would be achieved by creating enormous computer databases to gather and store the personal information of everyone in the United States, including personal e-mails, social networks, credit card records, phone calls, medical records, and numerous other sources including, without any requirement for a search warrant. link

The Total Information Awareness Office was (supposedly) de-funded by Congress in 2003 due to mass public outrage.  In truth, while TIA dropped the creepy logo, its objectives are still  being fulfilled.

According to Memes.org;

Richard Dawkins coined the term meme, which first came into popular use with the publication of his book The Selfish Gene in 1976. Dawkins based the word on a shortening of the Greek “mimeme” (something imitated), making it sound similar to “gene”. http://memes.org/definition-of-meme

Memetic Engineering is the process of modifying human beliefs and thought patterns by purposely altering, creating or propagating memes.  When used in the context presented by DARPA, it might be called a Meme War.

Back to DARPA’s RFP.

The first few pages lay out the purpose and desired outcome of this program;

“The general goal of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program is to developa new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base.” pg 4

[4 Specific Goals of SMISC-]

In particular, SMISC will develop automated and semi‐automated operator support tools and techniques for the systematic and methodical use of social media at data scale and in a timely fashion to accomplish four specific program goals:
1. Detect, classify, measure and track the

  • formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and
  • purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.

2. Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social media sites and communities.
3. Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.
4. Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations.

DARPA Declares;

“We must eliminate our current reliance on a combination of luck and unsophisticated manual methods by using systematic automated and semi‐automated human operator support to detect, classify, measure, track and influence events in social media at data scale and in a timely fashion.”

Technology areas particularly relevant to SMISC are shown here grouped to correspond to the four basic goals of the program as described above:
1. Linguistic cues, patterns of information flow, topic trend analysis, narrative structure analysis, sentiment detection and opinion mining;
2. Meme tracking across communities, graph analytics/probabilistic reasoning, pattern detection, cultural narratives;
3. Inducing identities, modeling emergent communities, trust analytics, network dynamics modeling;
4. Automated content generation, bots in social media, crowd sourcing.

Most of the 35 page document is boring details of fulfilling the RFP.  The first several pages is where the interesting stuff is.  Have a look

“It was, indeed, the Age of Information, but information was not the precursor to knowledge; it was the tool of the salesmen.”
Earl Shorris, A Nation of Salesmen

There can be no freedom when the government controls the people

Kaye Beach

Jan.10, 2010

Biometric identification, RFID tracking, Facial recognition that enables our whereabouts and associations to be monitored, international data sharing of our most personal information-Some are calling this the “Fusion Age”.  I see it as the age of enslavement!

Admiral Poindexter with his Orwellian “Total Information Awareness” scheme, chose to use “Knowlege is Power” as the motto of this reportedly killed project yet governments worldwide continue to impose biometric ID upon the people.

The time has come for a strategy to be put in place that ensures that the federal government does not get the control it so desperately is seeking. State laws must exist that prohibit the use of these technologies against citizens.  –*Mark Lerner of the Stop Real ID Coalition and the Constitutional Alliance.

I agree. We have to win this!

At present there are 26 states opposing REAL ID-we want to make that 50!  All 50,  armed with solid facts to support a sensible stance on state drivers licenses and ID.

In order for us to win we need your help. We need people committed to getting the facts out to their neighbors and to their representatives.  We need people who are willing to go the distance by being at their state capitols and watching what our legislators are doing so that we know who is abiding their oath of office and who isn’t.  We need advocates for limiting government and protecting our natural and legal rights that will take the initiative and use their creativity to find ways to keep our government within its proper bounds.

It will take all of this and more but right now we need financial support most of all so that all we have invested in so far can come to fruition.

My purpose is to ensure that our state stays true to our founding principles.

The Constitutional Alliance has been on the leading edge of the issues I care about the most and I am happy to tell you that Oklahoma is fully engaged.

Mark Lerner says;

There is nowhere in the country that I am aware of that the type and scope of legislation that will be introduced this upcoming session in the Oklahoma legislature exists.  State and national groups, churches from across the state, private citizens and many others including members of the legislature are working together.  To use the expression “The fight is on in Oklahoma”.  The template used in Oklahoma to create an environment that will allow the citizens to regain control can be applied throughout the country.

Today, I am asking you for your support to help the Constitutional Alliance continue its crucial work.

But first, here is an update;

5 Leading Issues of 2010

The Constitutional Alliance is working diligently to provide citizens with the most current information on federal and state legislation on these important issues:

1)  The collection, maintaining and sharing of citizen’s biometric information (digital facial images, fingerprints, iris scans and so forth)

2)  The collection, maintaining and sharing of citizens SSN’s and other personal information in state DMV databases.

3)  The use of RFID chips/tags in identification documents.

4)  The use of CCTV/surveillance cameras and ALPR (Automatic License Plate Readers)

5) Any federal legislation that requires states to comply with federal standards/international standards for the issuance of state driver’s licenses.

See our MISSION STATEMENT

It is crucial that we retain our ability to influence the direction of our government. Real ID and the Pass Act are global biometric identification and tracking systems. We must not permit such a powerful control systems to be imposed upon us.

Recently the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that the Real ID deadline was extended to April, 2011.  Many people now assume that there is breathing room, and that the States will address the Real ID Act and PASS ID Act legislation.
Nothing could be further from the truth!

The reality is that the other side is working diligently to come up with a compromise that will satisfy Real ID and PASS ID proponents.  We expect PASS ID to pass the full senate the end this month or early in February.

Our job is to provide accurate information and education so that citizens and lawmakers can make fully informed decisions.

Mark Lerner states;

We have an alternative to the Real ID Act 2005 and the PASS ID Act.  Our alternative keeps the federal government out of the business of controlling state driver’s licenses.  Our alternative would also insure that driver’s licenses have the document integrity needed and that each person could only obtain one driver’s license.  Our alternative insures each person will remain presumed innocent and not made to be subjected to the controlling measures of the federal government which removes the presumption of innocence.
As a not for profit entity, the Constitutional Alliance maintains focus on the educational aspects of the issues, however, If you are interested to learn about the different pieces of legislation in Oklahoma, you may email stoprealid@aol.com for a summarization of each of the bills.)

We all want good security for our nation but since when is security a zero sum game?  Are we supposed to believe that our security grows in proportion to the liberties we surrender?  That is what they seem to want us to believe.

The Stop REAL ID Coalition offers an alternative.

We have an alternative to the Real ID Act 2005 and the PASS ID Act.  Our alternative keeps the federal government out of the business of controlling state driver’s licenses.  Our alternative would also insure that driver’s licenses have the document integrity needed and that each person could only obtain one driver’s license.  Our alternative insures each person will remain presumed innocent and not made to be subjected to the controlling measures of the federal government which removes the presumption of innocence.
There can be no freedom when the government controls the people

The Alliance has just finished up its DVD, Stop Real ID. It drives the point home that with biometrics-

Your Body Is Your ID.
Mark Lerner is putting the finishing touches on a booklet he has been working on for us. This will give us one more tool to educate others (including our legislators) about the facts regarding Real ID and biometric identification.

We still have several important events that must be attended so that the right people get the solid information that they need.  Mark Lerner, a proven advocate, is serving as our consultant. We need to get Mark to at least four separate events around the state. These events start next week. The funds we are raising will be used for travel expenses, lodging, printed presentation materials, and pre-publication costs for the upcoming book.

The Constitutional Alliance is a non-profit 501(c) (3) that relies on the support of individuals like you and the  scope of our efforts is contingent upon your contributions.

We Need your Help Today!

On behalf of Alliance members who are working tirelessly to these ends, I ask that you make your most generous contribution today.
Donate Online at www.constitutionalalliance.org (top left side of page)

OR, you may send checks or money orders to;

“Constitutional Alliance Inc”

P.O. Box 2512, Mountain View, Arkansas 72560

If you need more information or would like me, or one of our members, to speak to your group about Real ID, Biometrics, RFID or any other surveillance and tracking plans, please let me know.

Thank You!

Kaye Beach, Grassroots Coordinator, the Constitutional Alliance

405-818-3224

ladyaxiom@yahoo.com

Please access materials available on our web-sites that demonstrate why so many states (26) and citizens are opposed to the Real ID Act and the PASS ID Act.

http://www.stoprealidcoalition.com and http://www.constitutionalalliance.org

*Mark Lerner

Mark Lerner was a confidant of senior people in the biometrics industry. After uncovering many improper acts by top people in the industry, Mark provided what has been called a “massive” amount of evidence to the government. After nearly a two investigation Mark came forward publicly when the results of the investigation were not revealed to congress or the public. Mark now leads the Stop Real ID Coalition and is a spokesperson for the Constitutional Alliance. Mark has testified before many state legislative committees and is in Washington D.C. on a regular basis supporting the rights of citizens.

Total Information Awareness Not Gone Nor Forgotten

Total Information Awareness

“Scientia Est Potentia”: ” Knowledge is Power”

The motto of Poindexter’s Information Awareness Office.

Admiral Poindexter may not be very admirable in character, but he’s no dummy either.  This logo for his Total Information Awareness project is not the result of lack of foresight, far from it.  It was meant to convey a profound message to the people. You cannot escape the “All Seeing Eye”

More than anything, Poindexter demonstrates that he has a poor sense of timing and lacks the gift of probing sensitivity to accurately gauge the currents of public sentiment.

Although TIA lives on, the creepy name and logo is gone.  We can build a “Total Information Awareness” society, it seems, so long as the government doesn’t exceed our tolerance for Orwellian esthetics depicting it.  But don’t cry for the Admiral. He packed up, moved on, and took his show on the road to Singapore.  History may not judge him kindly but his vision is still much in demand.

AxXiom

1/2/10

WIRED Reports

Sept 24, 2009

A fast-growing FBI data-mining system billed as a tool for hunting terrorists is being used in hacker and domestic criminal investigations, and now contains tens of thousands of records from private corporate databases, including car-rental companies, large hotel chains and at least one national department store, declassified documents obtained by Wired.com show.

Headquartered in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington, the FBI’s National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) maintains a hodgepodge of data sets packed with more than 1.5 billion government and private-sector records about citizens and foreigners, the documents show, bringing the government closer than ever to implementing the “Total Information Awareness” system first dreamed up by the Pentagon in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Such a system, if successful, would correlate data from scores of different sources to automatically identify terrorists and other threats before they could strike. The FBI is seeking to quadruple the known staff of the program

Read more;

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/09/fbi-nsac/

tia_categories

The Push for Real ID and Total Surveillance Proceeds-Where Do You Stand?

 Kaye Beach

April 9, 2009

No matter what we say, no matter what laws our states pass, no matter our natural and legal rights -NO MATTER WHAT-The federal Government intends to have its way with us.

 You will be the “HERD” and “they”, your former representatives, will be your “SHEPARD” as government rulers.

 

Shall we hope that they will treat us kindly or shall we refuse!

  

Shall we let our children be enslaved?

Understand that this total surveillance system that Real ID is a part of, is being implemented as I type these words.  If you think I am exaggerating then you simply do not comprehend what is happening. 

I have issued a challenge to every thinking person I have met who thinks that REAL ID (or its kin as in Enhanced Driver’s Licenses, or its elements as in many, many information “streamlining” or “sharing” bills-SB 483 is a handy example) is benign.  Do some unbiased homework, look at the evidence and then tell me that they still support this ID system.

I have yet to have one take me up on that challenge that did not see that it threatens our freedom, is antithetical to the Rule of Law and would not be worth it even if it did snare some bad guys. 

There is NO fence sitting on this issue.

 Complacence is Compliance

 To not actively oppose all of these data sharing, biometric, RFID bearing legislation is to be complicit in the destruction of human dignity and freedom.  If you do not take it upon yourself to get informed and take action, then you will have your leisure to regret in short order.

I implore each person to examine their conscious and decide now if they will be a force for freedom and truth or if they will be willing to crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you? 

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us
in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down
and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon
you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen

                                                                                     —–Samual Adams

I tell you with utter certainty, that this is the simple truth.

Be warned.

AxXiom

Quote of the Day: “The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state can be, and has often been . . . the main source of mischief and disaster.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) Economist and social philosopher

 

 

 

Subject: How REAL ID will help turn all of America into a giant HMO

 

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has pledged to review/reconsider the REAL ID national identity card.

 

It’s not hard to see why. Many Americans hate REAL ID, and 22 states have refused to comply with the program. DC Downsizers alone have bombarded Congress with 112,227 message demanding that REAL ID be repealed. So . . .

 

Should we be happy that Napolitano wants to review the REAL ID program? Not very. At best, we believe the outcome will be to . . .

 

* Repackage the program, perhaps under a new name


* Divide the program into parts, so it can be implemented in stages, such as with the TWIC program


* Concoct ways to bribe and coerce state governments to submit to the revised program

It’s hard to envision that REAL ID will really disappear, until or unless we compel Congress to repeal the authorizing legislation. In fact, we believe that REAL ID, in one form or another, is part of a grand scheme to empower the federal government to track everyone and everything at all times! This grand scheme includes . . .

 

* The National Animal Identification System (NAIS)


* A new system being devised to track food products


* The NSA system of universal warrantless spying on Americans


* And the new federal program to create universal electronic health records

 

We believe that all of these programs will eventually be combined to give the Feds “total information awareness.”

 

Are we being hysterical? Many would claim that we are, and they could point to aspects of current government plans that fall far short of being able to “track everyone and everything at all times.” But such criticisms miss a crucial point. The evidence is overwhelming that government programs . . .

 

* Tend to grow larger
* Nearly always come to include features the politicians promised they would never have

 

We predict that, should some version of REAL ID come into existence, it will eventually be combined with all the other tracking and surveillance systems described above. Most importantly . . .

 

We predict that your REAL ID will be combined with universal electronic medical records to control the kind of health care you receive.

We see the writing on the wall, and it says that the federal government is going to turn the entire United States health system into a giant HMO, with all of your medical procedures controlled by far off bureaucrats. This control will be enforced through something resembling REAL ID, tied to your electronic health records.

Is this what you want? If not, please use our Educate the Powerful system to ask your representatives to repeal the REAL ID Act. Use your personal comments to object to . . .

 

* The vast array of databases and tracking systems the politicians are creating


* Any attempt to implement something like REAL ID in bits and pieces

 

 

Tell them you want REAL ID repealed, not revised.

 

If you’ve used our Educate the Powerful System before, the best way to send your message, given our current technical difficulties, is to log-in using the log-in button at the top of our home page.

Then, click on the campaign button on the navigation strip at the top of the page, then click on the “REAL ID” campaign button at the top of the left hand column. That will call-up the page for sending your message.

If you’re sending your first message to Congress, click on this link, fill out the simple registration form for first time users, and send your message.

Ask your friends to join you in taking action by forwarding this message.

And consider Digging this Dispatch from the home page blog. 

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Son of Poindexter’s “TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS” Singapore

 

 Son of TIA: Pentagon Surveillance System Is Reborn in Asia

Sharon Weinberger 03.22.07

 

 

 Son of TIA: Pentagon Surveillance System Is Reborn in Asia

Sharon Weinberger 03.22.07

 

 Nearly four years after Congress pulled the plug on what critics assailed as an Orwellian scheme to spy on private citizens, Singapore is set to launch an even more ambitious incarnation of the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness program — an effort to collect and mine data across all government agencies in the hopes of pinpointing threats to national security.

The Singapore prototype of the system — dubbed Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning, or RAHS — was rolled out early this week at a conference in the Southeast Asia city-state. Retired U.S. Adm. John Poindexter, the architect of the original Pentagon program, traveled to Singapore to deliver a speech at the unveiling, while backers have already begun quietly touting the system to U.S. intelligence officials.

In 2003, plans for Total Information Awareness, or TIA, sparked outrage among privacy advocates. TIA was one of several programs run out of the Information Awareness Office at Darpa, the Pentagon’s advanced research projects agency. Fueling public indignation was news that Poindexter, President Reagan’s national security adviser and a key figure in the ’80s Iran-Contra scandal, was in charge of the office.

Facing an avalanche of bad publicity, Poindexter resigned in August 2003. Congress pulled funding for the program, and TIA and related programs were either terminated or moved to other agencies. The Information Awareness Office was closed.

But Poindexter’s vision never lost currency among advocates of data mining, particularly in Singapore, a country that mixes elements of democratic governance with authoritarian rule.

While different in design from TIA, the RAHS system shares some intellectual roots with the doomed Darpa effort. The two principal consultants for RAHS are John Peterson, of the Virginia-based Arlington Institute, and Dave Snowden, who was previously supported by Poindexter’s office within Darpa, and is now the chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge, a Singapore-based company.

Peterson, a futurist, describes RAHS as a system that monitors multiple feeds of data — both open and classified — to detect possible threats. “Essentially it’s a strategic tool that ties together every one of the agencies in a government into a large network that is constantly scanning the horizon looking for weak signals that point toward the possibility of a significant event that would have important implications for Singapore,” he said.

Snowden’s work at Cognitive Edge concentrates on automated software to detect such “weak signals” that would normally be passed over by human analysts. “Instead of having analysts trawl through huge amounts of data to decide what it means, the data is tagged very quickly, then they decide what the patterns in the metadata mean,” said Snowden.

While terrorism is a driving factor for RAHS, it was the SARS epidemic — which crippled Singapore’s economy — that prompted interest in the technology, according to Patrick Nathan, deputy director of the Singapore National Security Coordination Center. “We are studying the application of the RAHS concepts and tools to the social, and economic and financial domains,” Nathan wrote in an e-mail interview.

Whether terrorism or epidemics, Singapore’s rapid acceptance of data mining is a breath of fresh air to the system’s designers. “Singapore is small and has this intrinsic sense of paranoia,” Peterson said.

“I think we would have been stuck in Darpa doing experimental research for another 15 years without anyone making it operational,” Snowden said. “Singapore just walked around and saw what they liked, and said, ‘The hell with it, let’s just make it operational,’ which is much more pragmatic and forward-thinking.”

While the controversial Darpa efforts were never more than research, RAHS is set to launch with five different agencies in September. Eventually, RAHS would extend across Singapore’s entire government, a plan that makes it the most ambitious data-snooping effort in the world.

Those involved in the Singapore system are well aware of the brouhaha over TIA, but say they are less concerned about RAHS. Snowden pointed out that although RAHS would pore through everything from health records to raw intelligence, only the “metadata” is shared among agencies, and not the data itself.

Likewise, officials in Singapore are thinking about the privacy debate. Nathan said that at this stage, RAHS will focus on “open-source information” until the procedures for classified data can be worked out. In parallel, Singapore is running a pilot project on data anonymization, he added.

Steven Aftergood, head of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said that while he wasn’t familiar with RAHS, privacy issues are important in any data-mining system. “Some government officials attempt to finesse the privacy issue by insisting that individual records and data will not normally be shared or subject to examination by a human observer so, they argue, there is no real infringement on privacy,” he wrote in an e-mail. “But that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Personal privacy is compromised whenever one is subject to unwanted surveillance, even by a machine.”

For Snowden, the balance between privacy and security is more clear-cut. “If somebody can use a little bit of software that connects up the conversation between somebody trying to get into Britain, and four or five stories told by parents of pupils in a school in an area with a high Islamic population, and some police intelligence reports, and see there’s a pattern, I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

Of course Snowden concedes that how the public views the privacy issue depends on “how people explain it and how it’s sold.”

That’s where the conference in Singapore comes in. The goal of the symposium, which took place Monday and Tuesday, was “to expose this thing to the international world,” said the Arlington Institute’s Peterson. Officials from the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Israel were invited to attend.

The conference follows a visit to Washington, D.C., the first week in March by a Singapore delegation to discuss RAHS with U.S. intelligence and Homeland Security officials. The Singaporeans had on their agenda meetings with Charles Allen, DHS’ assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis, and Patrick Neary, strategy chief for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, according to the PR firm hired by the Singapore government to publicize the trip, though the planned meeting with Neary didn’t take place. Neither DHS nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would comment on their interest in the program.

Poindexter, who was also on the roster of people the Singaporeans were scheduled to meet with in the United States, never quite disappeared from the data-mining scene. In January of this year, he was elected to the board of BrightPlanet, a firm that boasts “the most powerful search, harvest and document federation technology available in the world.” The company’s press release announcing Poindexter’s appointment noted the former national security adviser would “provide guidance in developing further contacts within the intelligence community.”

As for Poindexter’s association with RAHS and his appearance at this week’s conference, Nathan noted that meetings with the former Darpa manager are consultative. “We have no formal relationship with John Poindexter but have met him to exchange ideas and perspectives,” he said.

Whether formal or informal, everyone involved in RAHS is aware that Poindexter has proved a lightning rod for critics of data mining. Recalling the events that led to the closing of Poindexter’s office, Snowden, who describes himself as “on the left politically,” was candid about the man he still calls a friend.

He’s a genius,” Snowden said, “but he’s a naive genius; he didn’t realize how it was going to be picked up.”

 

 

 

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