Remember Total Information Awareness? The Bush administration does.
Congress thought it killed off the controversial data-mining project in 2003. "Total Information Awareness is no more," Sen. Ron Wyden declared then. "The lights are out."
The lights may have gone out at the Defense Department's Information Awareness Office, but it now seems that the Bush administration simply turned them back on elsewhere. Following up where Newsweek left off earlier this month, the National Journal is reporting that the administration is still pursuing some of the most important components of TIA under the black umbrella of the National Security Agency -- the same agency tasked with the Bush administration's warrantless spying work.
The National Journal says the administration and its contractors have hidden the continued existence of TIA components by changing some of their names. An e-mail message from one contractor suggests that a big component of the project, previously known as the "Information Awareness Prototype System," now goes by the name "Basketball" instead, the National Journal says. "TIA has been terminated and should be referenced in that fashion," an employee of the contractor warned his colleagues. Similarly, the National Journal says, a project once known as "Genoa II" was renamed "Topsail" when it moved from the Defense Department to the NSA's Advanced Research and Development shop.
As the National Journal notes, Wyden asked FBI Director Robert Mueller and intelligence czar John Negroponte earlier this month whether TIA operations had been moved rather than shut down. They said they didn't know, but Gen. Michael Hayden -- the former NSA director and point man for the administration's warrantless spying defense -- was a little more circumspect. "I'd like to answer in closed session," he said.