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  •  For the Techie-curious, see resources below... (1+ / 0-)
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    jimreyn

    Partial story from Defense Tech and further below Wired.com....

    "TIA" Reboots

    We all knew that Total Information Awareness and its uber-database progeny weren't going away. It was just a question of what names TIA's bastard children were now using, and what government agencies had decided to give 'em a home.

    iaologo.gifToday, we find out about two of the not-so-little stinkers. Newsweek, in a brutal assessment of the NSA and other intelligence agencies ("Wanted: Competent Big Brothers"), tucks in this nugget:

    Today, very quietly, the core of TIA survives with a new codename of Topsail... two officials privy to the intelligence tell NEWSWEEK. It is in programs like these that real data mining is going on and considering the furor over TIA with fewer intrusions on civil liberties than occur under the NSA surveillance program. "It’s the best thing to come out of American intelligence in decades," says John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. "It is truly Poindexter’s brainchild. Of all the people in the intelligence business, he has the keenest appreciation of using advanced information technology for intelligence gathering." Poindexter, who lives just outside Washington in Rockville, Md., could not be reached for comment on whether he is still involved with Topsail.

    Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor has discovered a new data-mining program over at the Homeland Security Department. It's called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement -- "ADVISE," for short.

    What sets ADVISE apart is its scope. It would collect a vast array of corporate and public online information - from financial records to CNN news stories - and cross-reference it against US intelligence and law-enforcement records. The system would then store it as "entities" - linked data about people, places, things, organizations, and events, according to a report summarizing a 2004 DHS conference in Alexandria, Va. The storage requirements alone are huge - enough to retain information about 1 quadrillion entities, the report estimated. If each entity were a penny, they would collectively form a cube a half-mile high - roughly double the height of the Empire State Building.

    And on Echelon from Wired.com

    by Niall McKay
    1998-09-30 04:00:00.0
    If the European Parliament has its way, the lid is about to come off what is reputedly one of the most powerful, secretive, and extensive spy networks in history -- if, in fact, it really exists.

    In October, Europe's governing body will commission a full report into the workings of Echelon, a global network of highly sensitive listening posts operated in part by America's most clandestine intelligence organization, the National Security Agency.

    "Frankly, the only people who have any doubt about the existence of Echelon are in the United States," said Glyn Ford, a British member of the European Parliament and a director of Scientific and Technical Options Assessment, or STOA, a technology advisory committee to the parliament.

    Echelon is reportedly able to intercept, record, and translate any electronic communication -- telephone, data, cellular, fax, email, telex -- sent anywhere in the world. The parliamentary report will focus on concerns that the system has expanded and is now zeroed in on the secrets of European companies and elected officials.

    The parliament is alarmed at reports of Echelon's impressive capabilities, and during a debate on 19 September, the European Union called for accountability. The parliament stressed that the NSA and the Government Communications Headquarters, which jointly operate Echelon, must adopt measures to guard against the system's abuse.

    International cooperation on law enforcement is important, Ford said, but there are limits. "We want to establish a code of conduct for the systems to protect EU citizens and governments."

    Across the Atlantic, Patrick Poole, deputy director for the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, is preparing a report on Echelon to present to Republican members of Congress. "I believe it's time we start to bring this matter to our elected officials," he said.

    Poole and Ford have their work cut out for them: Neither Britain nor the United States will admit that Echelon even exists. The NSA declined any comment on a series of faxed questions for this story.

    Keyword: Bomb

    Over the years, enough information has leaked to suggest that the spy network is more than science fiction. Echelon came to the attention of the EU Parliament following a report commissioned by STOA last year.

    "Unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, Echelon is designed for primarily non-military targets: governments, organizations, and businesses in virtually every country," the report said.

    According to the STOA report and stories in The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Guardian, Echelon consists of a network of listening posts, antenna fields, and radar stations. The system is backed by computers that use language translation, speech recognition, and keyword searching to automatically sift through telephone, email, fax, and telex traffic.

    The system is principally operated by the NSA and the GCHQ, but reportedly also relies on cooperation with "signals intelligence" operations in other countries, including the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, Australia's Defense Signals Directorate, and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau.

    Changing America 1 cup at a time... "I'm not a Liberal, I just use my brain."

    by coffeeinamrica on Fri May 12, 2006 at 12:29:23 AM PDT

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