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Boards to Oversee Total Information Awareness Program

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2003 – Two boards will oversee the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Total Information Awareness program, said Pete Aldridge, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, today.

The program concept is designed to catch terrorists before they strike. TIA uses tracking tools to obtain and analyze information pertaining to the actions of terrorists. The Defense Department said that while the program is promising, it is very much a research concept.

Retired Rear Adm. John Poindexter, a former national security adviser under President Reagan, heads the research effort.

Poindexter explained the program at a DARPA-sponsored conference in California in August 2002. "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 information space," he said at the DARPATech 2002 Conference. "This is a list of transaction categories, and it is meant to be inclusive."

He said currently terrorists can hide when necessary and find sponsorship for their acts. "We are painfully aware of some of the tactics that they employ," Poindexter said. "This low-intensity, low-density form of warfare has an information signature. We must be able to pick this signal out of the noise."

Civil liberties groups are concerned the program will invade privacy. Some maintain it is an excuse to spy upon American citizens and liken it to the FBI surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr.

DoD is attempting to assuage these concerns by establishing the boards. The internal board, chaired by Aldridge, will oversee and monitor the way Total Information Awareness is handled and how it is turned over to other agencies for their use. The board will hold its first meeting at the end of February.

In addition to Aldridge, the internal board will consist of David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Doug Feith, undersecretary for policy; John Stenbit, assistant secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence; Powell Moore, assistant secretary for legislative affairs; Victoria Clarke, assistant secretary for public affairs; and William Haynes II, DoD general counsel.

The external board is chaired by Newton Minow, director of the Annenberg Washington Program and the Annenberg professor of communications law and policy at Northwestern University. Also serving are Floyd Abrams, civil rights attorney; Zoe Baird, director, Markle Foundation (private philanthropic organization); Griffin Bell, former U.S. attorney general and U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge; Gerhard Casper, president emeritus for Stanford University and professor of law; William T. Coleman, former chairman and CEO of BEA (application infrastructure software company) and now chief customer advocate; and Lloyd Cutler, former White House counsel.

Aldridge said the program cost DARPA $10 million in fiscal 2003 and is forecast to receive $20 million in the president's fiscal 2004 budget request.

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