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Rumsfeld Says Don't Sweat DARPA Info Awareness Experiment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SANTIAGO, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002 – "It's a case of 'Ready' 'Shoot,' 'Aim,'" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Nov. 17 while talking about the new Information Awareness Office.

The secretary spoke to reporters while en route to the Defense Ministerial of the Americas here Nov. 19. He urged anyone getting upset over the project to "take a nice deep, deep breath."

The Information Awareness Office is an experiment by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to use advanced capabilities to gather and analyze information that may help in the war on terror. But it is still a research program, Rumsfeld said, adding he wouldn't dwell on its pieces. He frankly admitted he does not know much about the program.

But he can defend it and other programs. He said the department is investing a relatively small amount of money in the program in hopes that something useful comes of it. He pointed out that DARPA invented the Internet. "When that work began, the people doing it had no idea that what would evolve would be what we see today as the Internet," Rumsfeld said.

That same activity is still happening in DARPA today. "You have some very talented people taking some small fraction of the taxpayers' money and investing it to see if we can't find ways to do things better," he said.

Not everything that DARPA looks at develops into something useful. Scientists show that some projects flat won't work or are too expensive. Other projects might be feasible, but not for the Department of Defense. The Department of Transportation, the FBI or the Department of Justice might be more appropriate. Still others may prove to be against the American grain that the department stops funding.

But Rumsfeld's point is that the country won't know until these scientists push that envelope of science and see what's there. "The hyped and alarm approach (by the press) is a disservice to the public," he said.

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