With the excellent analysis today here and the story about Talon here, I wanted to share my little bit of research regarding what John Poindexter has been doing lately. I posted this diary back on June 17th but it got little notice. So with that, I am posting it again with a few additions.

This story, from a few days ago (From June 13,2007) on
ThinkProgress , jumped out at me [my bold]:

In the name of fighting terrorism, the FBI is seeking to create a massive new data-mining program which "bears a striking resemblance" to the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program:

The FBI is seeking $12 million for the [National Security Branch Analysis Center] in FY2008, which will include 90,000 square feet of office space and a total of 59 staff, including 23 contractors and five FBI agents. Documents predict the NSAC will include six billion records by FY2012. This amounts to 20 separate "records" for each man, woman and child in the United States. The "universe of subjects will expand exponentially" with the expanded role of the NSAC, the Justice Department documents assert.

Someone is paying attention, though I think that horse left the barn here and here

Concerned about the potential for abuse, House Science and Technology Committee members Brad Miller (D-NC) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) requested last week that the Government Accountability Office investigate the proposal.

The cite the FBI’s "track record of improperly — even illegally — gathering personal information on Americans," Miller and Sensenbrenner want the GAO to look into:

What information will be contained in the "records" it collects, whether the "records" of U.S. citizens will be included in its database, how this data will be employed and how the FBI plans to ensure that the data is not misused or abused in any way.

So that whole data mining thing made me wonder... what’s  ol’ Dr.Poindexter up to these days?

In August of 2003 he left his work at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. Funny thing though, he still seems to like that kind of work, because, as of January of this year he is now on the board of  a company called BrightPlanet Corporation, as per their press release:

RELEASED: January 25, 2007
(Sioux Falls, SD) ---The shareholders of BrightPlanet Corporation elected former National Security Advisor Admiral John Poindexter and Jim Hunt to its Board of Directors. The election was held Tuesday, January 16, 2007.

That same press release shares this information about Mr. Hunt:

Jim Hunt is currently a managing partner of both the MITA Group, a public affairs and business strategy consultancy based in Washington, DC, and The Nucleus Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Giuliani Partners of New York, NY.

Yes, that Giuliani.

Along with these comforting words:

These two gentlemen bring remarkable depth and strategic experience to the BrightPlanet board," Chairman of the BrightPlanet Board of Directors Steve Pederson said. "Both Dr. Poindexter and Mr. Hunt have a wide network of professional relationships within the intelligence community, and will provide guidance in developing further contacts within the intelligence community.

BrightPlanet designs and develops the most powerful search, harvest, and document federation technology available in the world


Its customers represent leading enterprise organizations, state governments, and departments and agencies of the United States government.

Among BrightPlanet Corps customers are NATO and the US Navy. I thought of Dr Poindexter when I read this story.

Looking at the home page of the BrightPlanet website, it is suggested that one take a look at their partners. Some of the names listed are Lockheed Martin, and Factiva-"a Dow Jones company". Here’s the one that gave me chills (except for the typos):
Phoenix Global Intelligence Systems

.... has members and volunteers residing across the globe. Phoenix Intelligence believes that its unique multinational nature and wide reach enable it to better understand and operate in what has become a global war against terrror [sic].
...comprised of talented, visionary and dedicated individuals from around the globe who have come together with common cause. Embracing the forces of globalisation [sic] and technology, they embody the very spirit that the enemy seeks to destroy. Unrestrained by nationality and not beholden to political leaders, Phoenix Global Intelligence Systems represents the future of global security provision.

[my bold]

Since BrightPlanet "designs and develops the most powerful search, harvest, and document federation technology available in the world", I wonder what they think of this from that first posting on Think Progress:

Furthermore, data mining has yet to be proven effective in counter-terrorism. Jeff Jonas, a world renowned data mining expert and IBM Distinguished Engineer, wrote in a recent Cato Institute study on "predictive" data mining that because it is extremely difficult to distinguish between ordinary behavior and terrorist behavior, programs similar to NSAC are likely to "flood the national security system with false positives — suspects who are truly innocent.

And from  this piece,which I suggest you read all of on the BrightPlanet website itself, some snippets

Vincent Cannistraro is the retired operations chief for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, a 27-year veteran of intelligence work, and he now owns a consulting firm.
He said there's been a concerted push in the intelligence community to keep an eye on online terrorists.
"It really means burrowing down into these jihadist Web sites," he said. "And they do it in a professionally organized way."


Phoenix Global Intelligence Systems is a private network of around 40 concerned citizens who prowl the Internet's netherworld, hunting for terrorists. They then pass any tips on to government agencies.

"We basically scour the Internet for any sign of any terrorist threats or plots," said Brent Astley, founder and head of the group. "We try to be an extra set of eyes and ears out there."

[my bold]

Cannistraro said that while he commends the spirit behind the work of Phoenix Global, he questions its usefulness.

"It's amateur hour, it's not very effective," he said. "This vigilante kind of activity assumes that the counterterrorism specialists aren't looking at these targets."

Cannistraro says groups such as Phoenix Global can even stumble upon ongoing government efforts to snare terrorists, possibly ruining the work.

Oh well...

So Poindexter has landed on the top of the heap, it would seem, with his "wide network of professional relationships within the intelligence community", and his ability to "provide guidance in developing further contacts within the intelligence community." I am presuming that the US taxpayer is again sending money in his direction. And I know I’m going to sleep better at night knowing that Dr. Poindexter is applying his talents to searching and harvesting data from around the world to help fight terror.
The phrase "unrestrained by nationality and not beholden to political leaders" from a partner company of Poindexter’s new company presents a mind-set that is not new, but still, to me, is breath-taking. It’s good to know he’s on "our" side.