Alan March 26, 2007 4:00 PM

The genie is out of the bottle. It cannot be legislated away. Someone, somewhere is going to do this. US law cannot stop it. The only question is which national governments will have access to the resulting information. And no country will be willing to abstain if their adversaries partake.

It’s not just too late. It always was too late. This is the inevitable result of modern communications technology.

John Moore March 26, 2007 6:01 PM

Something similar happened with stem cell research. It went overseas to Singapore. Our Congress doesn’t appear to be very bright or wise, just shortsighted and greedy from surface appaearances. But then the GOP had all three branches of government in their pocket and that has turned out to be a windfall for some and a disaster for most of us.

UNTER March 26, 2007 6:45 PM


Isn’t that why we have international treaties and a global system? Wasn’t mustard gas out of the bag in 1914, yet somehow it got put back into the bag? I wouldn’t surrender just yet – they’ve even managed to push land-mines somewhat back into the bag…

kiwano March 26, 2007 7:42 PM

One of the things that doesn’t quite click with me here, in referring to this as a Singapore-based TIA system is that it’s mighty tricky to to the data mining without, you know, the data. Foreign company X can design all the software they want to mine all the data out there on whatever population interests then, but it doesn’t do them a damned bit of good if they can’t get the data.

That’s why you need broad privacy legislation that encompasses the private sector as well as the public sector; to ensure that Company X can’t mine the data because they can’t get the data.

Reality March 26, 2007 11:06 PM

Re: but it doesn’t do them a damned bit of good if they can’t get the data

You might be unpleasently surprised at just how much data is free or near free. Then, there is what you can buy for serious money. Then, there is what you can get from the right contacts. Pretty scary.

Many good books, etc. One that comes to mind is No Place to Hide.

SquirrelyMail March 26, 2007 11:07 PM

Maybe they can make up for their program by turning over their archives of the apparently tons of emails sent by white house personnel on RNC servers – most probably not secure. Who knows how much has leaked out of the WH this way. I saw the addresses on the original releases but wasn’t smart enough to whois them, but someone was.

See link below:
Waxman wants RNC emails at TPMMuckraker

BunBun March 27, 2007 2:16 AM

You’ve got to love how that Peterson guy describes an “intrinsic sense of paranoia” as “pragmatic and forward-thinking”.

@Reality: just one more reason to make sure that the amount of data that is being collected from now on is restricted, at least, and that privacy safeguards become mandatory.

Bastion March 27, 2007 7:29 AM

@John Moore

“they’ve even managed to push land-mines somewhat back into the bag…”

Nice sentiments but I think Alan has a better case. In the case of mines, we will start using them again as soon as we feel sufficiently threatened. Chemical weapons were used by Iraq against Iran and Russia against Chechnya. You cannot uninvent things.

In my country (UK), the slide towards ubiquitous state surveillance using databases appears to be progressing with little serious debate by our government.


“it was developed elsewhere and now may be sold back to the U.S.”

I wouldn’t worry about that. Just look at the endless upgrades pushed out by commercial database vendors. There is a lot of money to be made in data mining and the next system will probably be made in the USA.

Markk March 27, 2007 10:27 AM

It is funny they are the one of the current killers of US troops but nobody wants to call them landmines anymore, IED’s instead. Just because they are not buried, they are crude or sophisticated or even shaped charge. Explosives set at the side of the road to go off automatically when a vehicle passes are landmines in my book – buried or not.

Paul B March 27, 2007 11:44 AM

What’s troubling to me is that even though Congress pulled funding for the program, it was developed elsewhere and now may be sold back to the U.S.

That sentence puts me in mind of a recent thought. Proof Of Concept (POC). I encountered the POC term recently, and it intersected in my head with reading a security tidbit. Thus providing a term for what has long concerned me: Tools of censorship, of ubiquitous monitoring, of control. Being developed in more repressive countries (often piggy-backing off the less repressive countries’ intellectual advancements — ironic). And once the bugs are worked out and the tools’ strengths well developed while their profiles and technical management requirements are minimized, well, guess where they are introduced. In those (formerly) less repressive countries.

I get the feeling, not infrequently, that what we see in China, Singapore, and many other technically advancing but socially repressive environments, is what is coming to the U.S., U.K., you name it. The former are being viewed as the proof of concept, by those who wish to control the latter.

SumDumGuy March 27, 2007 7:06 PM

Anybody else think that Snowden’s characterization of the program was just so much buzzword gobbledygook?

”…based on understanding nuanced narrative supporting the cognitive processes of decision makers and increasing the number of cultural and political perspectives available to policy makers.”

a_Lex March 28, 2007 4:29 AM

”…based on understanding nuanced narrative supporting the cognitive processes of decision makers and increasing the number of cultural and political perspectives available to policy makers.”

Hey, i babelfished it to Russian!


You made my day!

Moray McConnachie March 28, 2007 4:34 AM

“Buzzword gobbledygook” – OK, maybe nuanced narrative isn’t great, but I don’t think it’s gobbledygook, particularly compared to many academic papers I have heard given. Narrative is something of a term of art here. If I had to expand it, I’d say
“helping bring out the full depth, meaning associations and implications of information, and provide a full range of cultural and political perspectives on it, in order to support the cognitive processes of decision makers.”

“Nuanced narrative” certainly compresses this, even if it does sound buzz-wordy.

Yo-Duh April 5, 2007 12:41 PM

Is anyone talking about Admiral John Pointdexter’s role in this scenario? Looks to me like he’s got himself a great beta site for the vast data minining system he’s been overseeing for 20 years. Congress has sent it away twice, the latest time in 2003 in the program’s TIA guise, so now we’re simply shifiting final developement, testing and implementation to Singapore.

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