A welcome bit of good news comes from the folks at Wired News:
The controversial Terrorism Information Awareness program, which would troll Americans’ personal records to find terrorists before they strike, may soon face the same fate Congress meted out to John Ashcroft in his attempt to create a corps of volunteer domestic spies: death by legislation.
The Senate’s $368 billion version of the 2004 defense appropriations bill, released from committee to the full Senate on Wednesday, contains a provision that would deny all funds to, and thus would effectively kill, the Terrorism Information Awareness program, formerly known as Total Information Awareness. TIA’s projected budget for 2004 is $169 million.
TIA is the brainchild of John Poindexter, a key figure from the Iran-Contra scandal, who now heads the research effort at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Critics on the left and right have called TIA an attempt to impose Big Brother on Americans. The program would use advanced data-mining tools and a mammoth database to find patterns of terrorist activities in electronic data trails left behind by everyday life.
The Senate bill’s language is simple but comprehensive: “No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense … or to any other department, agency or element of the Federal Government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program.”
Can’t get much more clear cut than that. This still isn’t a slam dunk as the bill in question still has to go through committee to reconcile it with a similar bill from the House, but it’s expected that TIA opponents will succeed in killing funding for the project effectively eliminating the program. Not a bad way to start a Monday.