UPDATE: Total Information Awareness Lives

Congress voted to shut down the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness program in 2003 (though not before it was renamed “Terrorism Information Awareness” — sound familiar?).

During a Senate hearing last week, General Michael Hayden was asked whether TIA had simply been “moved to various intelligence agencies” after Congress tried to terminate it. As ThinkProgress noted, Hayden stonewalled:

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): I and others on this panel led the effort to close it [Total Information Awareness]. We want to know if Mr. [John] Poindexter’s programs are going on somewhere else. Can anyone answer that? …

HAYDEN: Senator, I’d like to answer in closed session.


In fact, the answer is yes.

[T]oday, very quietly, the core of TIA survives with a new codename of Topsail (minus the futures market), two officials privy to the intelligence tell NEWSWEEK. … “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,” [says John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.]. Poindexter, who lives just outside Washington in Rockville, Md., could not be reached for comment on whether he is still involved with Topsail.

The will of Congress thwarted again. Why do they even bother?