2006/12/09

A Federal War of Attrition

ATS, the newest government assault on the 4th Amendment, is just another in a long series of sweeping programs designed to give the federal government a thorough picture of citizen activities. Total Information Awareness, Basic Pilot, Secure Flight, and all of the others have at their core one central idea: That Americans are no more trustworthy than foreign criminals; that they are an enemy to be controlled through comprehensive profiling; that the only way to ensure the nation's safety is to limit freedom of speech, freedom to work, and freedom to travel.

There's no question that many of these programs are illegal and, one way or another, will be consigned to the dustbin of history, but with a new assault exposed every six months, it looks like the Bush Administration is engaged in a war of attrition against the American people. If only two of these programs (any two, pick your favorites) manage to make it past the gauntlet of the media, the courts, and Congress then Bu$hCo wins...and we loose.

So here's my, admittedly non-comprehensive, list of programs and their fates:

Total Information Awareness - The DARPA funded granddaddy of information driven assaults. Exposed in 2002, it was killed in 2003 by having its funding withdrawn, but many now classified children of TIA live on under the code name 'Topsail'.

Basic Pilot - An effort by DHS and INS to link social-security databases with federal law-enforcement and immigration data for the purpose of validating employment eligibility and discovering illegal aliens. Basic Pilot was a central to the debate over the (C)omprehensive (I)mmigration (R)eform (A)ct of 2006 and is still in use.

Secure Flight - TSA's attempt to check every single airline passenger against terrorist watch lists. The program was suspended early in 2006 for failing to demonstrate that it's systems could not be misused or hacked from the outside.

CoCD Proposal - An attempt by the CDC, under the guise of dealing with pandemics, to do exactly what the ATS does--gather an unprecedented amount of information on every single airline passenger coming into the United States. This program received an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny when a secret 'memorandum of understanding' regarding data sharing between HHS and DHS was revealed.

Terrorist Surveillance Program - Or... The biggest mass privacy violation in this nation's history--an unprecedented attempt to circumvent the 4th Amendment. ACLU v. NSA resulted in a ruling (stayed and currently on appeal in the 6th Circuit) that the program is unconstitutional. Hepting v. AT&T, the EFF's class-action lawsuit against the telco for assisting NSA with the TSP program is going forward after dismissal motions by AT&T and by the government were rejected at the district court level.

Automated Targeting System - And then there's ATS the 'terror score' database that will do for domestic passengers what CoCD tries do for international passengers while automating checks in a way that surpasses Secure Flight. Only now we find out that ATS is probably illegal as well, since it seems to violate congressional funding prohibitions.

So there you have it... 6 egregious programs, of which, three are still active and one is under study. And this isn't even an exhaustive list. What new assault will we face next month?

10 Comments:

Yes, not only is Big Brother watching you, but Big Sister, Big Daddy, and probably Big Creepy Uncle Donald.
This was a great post. Thank You. I share your worry, as well as distrust. I have long been of the personal opionion that Mr. Bush considered Americans much more of a threat to him, than any terrorists, proven or suspected. His claim that all of this spying and attempted control is necessary for "freedom".....WHO'S freedom? Certainly not you and I. I strongly suspect he speaks of his own freedom to do what he wishes.
TFWY, you're welcome!

I've been in sort of a dry patch the last couple of days looking for something worth of posting, but this topic has got me really pissed off. I wouldn't go so far as to say that bombarding us with illegal program after illegal program has exactly been planned. But there's no question IMHO that the public's sense of outrage is being deadened by the onslaught of Constitution busting bullsh*t that comes out of Bu$hCo.
And the MSM ain't helping the situation one god damned bit.

Oh well, I guess since it NEWS isn't profitable, they shouldn't have to bother w/ anything lackin' in Entertainment Value.

Right?

Good stuff amigo.
Good post, and ditto to "future" up there.

Sinister, aren't they? (shudders)
One has too wonder how many of Der Fuehrer Bush's illegal programs mimic those of Adolph Hitler. I would think that everyone of them certainly mimic those of Dictatorship countries.

If this don't scare the crap out of you than your not alive. When they start affecting those who now support this dictator than and only than will they wake up. By then though it will be to late.

We better see that the American People wake up soon before it is too late for all of us.

God Bless
I have been reading "Worse Than Watergate" by John Dean, and in this book he points out things of this sort as part of Bush/Cheney's hidden agenda of weakening Congress and keeping the American people uninformed while operating under extreme secrecy. For example, he describes how the General Accounting Office (GAO) was basically neutered by the Bushies when the GAO tried to find out about who was involved with Cheney's secret energy committee...

These guys don't want us to have any information on anything, and they want to have all the information on us that they can get. That sounds like a rather unbalanced equation.

Lew, thinking of Rumsfeld as "Big Creepy Uncle Donald" cracks me up! That's a great one!
probation or parole (making them , for all intents and purposes, unemployable)

Michael, that's very true. Even when crime rates fall, the MSM focusses on the most gruesome excesses of society. Really enforces the paranoia we all feel.

TBFKaJB, thanks. This has been on my mind for a while--every since ATS was exposed.
AnonP, like you I'm very concerned about the content, the mechanics, of these programs, but I think I'm more concerned about the blase attitude Americans now have toward each new outrage.

Snave makes an excellent point about the neutering of Congress, and I'd add to that the neutering of the courts, which IMHO is the 'last best defense' against this sort of Constitution-busting nonsense.
i have a feeling that more than two will make it through. once enacted, crap like this seems to have staying power. it is harder to unenact than to block the acts in the first place- which is why they snuck around to do it.

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