SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 81
September 26, 2003

TIA TERMINATED, BUT NIMD LIVES ON

In the culmination of a festering public controversy, Congress this week eliminated all funding for the Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) data-mining program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and shut down the DARPA Information Awareness Office, TIA's parent entity that was formerly headed by Adm. John Poindexter.

"The [House and Senate] conferees are concerned about the activities of the Information Awareness Office and direct that the Office be terminated immediately," according to the conference report on the FY 2004 defense appropriations bill.

The move does not mean the end of other government data-mining research programs that are comparable to the aborted TIA.

"The conference agreement does not restrict the National Foreign Intelligence Program from using processing, analysis and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence purposes," the report states. See:

Indeed, one TIA-like program conducted under the auspices of U.S. intelligence is the "Novel Intelligence from Massive Data" (NIMD) initiative of the little-known Intelligence Community Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA).

Pursued with a minimal public profile and lacking a polarizing figure like Adm. Poindexter to galvanize opposition, NIMD has proceeded quietly even as TIA imploded.

The existence of NIMD was first noted last year by Jim McGee of CQ Homeland Security. More recently, on July 24, 2003 he wrote in CQ Homeland Security that NIMD was "roaring down a parallel research track to TIA." NIMD was also cited in a May 21, 2003 article in the New York Times.

A summary description of the NIMD program is available on the ARDA web site here:

The surviving classified data-mining programs "have all the safeguards of programs under the jurisdiction of the National Foreign Intelligence Program to protect civil liberties of U.S. citizens," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on September 25.

"These are very important to the ongoing war on terrorism overseas. The conferees have agreed to allow this effort to continue," he said.


CLASSIFIED RESEARCH ON CAMPUS

The question of whether and how to permit classified research in an academic setting continues to roil university campuses around the country, some of which prohibit such research while others permit it in one form or another. (SN, 02/28/02)

At the University of Alaska at Fairbanks (UAF), the Faculty Senate adopted a resolution last spring that would curtail classified research there.

But on September 15, the UAF Chancellor disapproved the resolution, which "creates substantive restrictions on the performance of classified and proprietary research," on procedural grounds.

This week, however, the UAF Faculty Senate voted by the required two-thirds majority to override the Chancellor's veto.

"The process of negotiation continues," said UAF philosophy professor Norm Swazo, a critic of classified university research who recently stepped down as president of the Faculty Senate.

Background on the UAF controversy over classified research may be found here:


GAO FAULTS FBI IT MODERNIZATION

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made scarcely any headway in modernizing its archaic information technology (IT) infrastructure, the General Accounting Office reported.

"Unless this changes, ... the bureau will be severely challenged in its ability to implement a set of modernized systems that optimally support critical mission needs."

See "Information Technology: FBI Needs An Enterprise Architecture to Guide Its Modernization Activities," U.S. General Accounting Office, September 2003:


CONDOLEEZZA RICE ON BACKGROUND, CONT'D

The White House moved swiftly yesterday to delete a reporter's reference to "Dr. Rice" from the transcript posted on the White House web site of what was supposed to be a background briefing with an unnamed "senior administration official" (SN, 09/25/03).

But the raw transcript of the September 24 briefing, provided by the Federal Document Clearing House, is still preserved in the Lexis-Nexis database.

And a replica of the original, unaltered page (printer friendly version) including the reference to Dr. Rice has been posted here:

The pretense of anonymity in such circumstances is silly. But it is also pernicious since it adds one more veil for officials to hide behind, distancing the public from its government and shielding officials from responsibility for their own words.

******************************

Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to [email protected] with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to [email protected].

OR email your request to [email protected]

Secrecy News is archived at:
      http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html