CIA, TIA & RBC: Who was watching?

by Bruce Webb

The MSM and the blogosphere alike are ablaze with speculation about exactly what secret program the CIA kept concealed for eight years. Assasination squad targetted at al-Qaeda? Well since we have been firing Hellfire missiles from Predators whenever we suspect the presense of high level al-Qaeda for years now that news would not have shocked anyone, still less people like Peter Hoekstra. Domestic surveillance? Well the Patriot Act already authorized cetain types of secret searches and we have spent the last couple of years debating domestic wiretapping. That would not have shocked Congress on either side of the aisle. No it had to be something pretty shocking, and I am suggesting it may be as easy as transforming the CIA into USA-TIA at the behest of one Richard Bruce Cheney.

The graphic attached to this post drew some ridicule at the time but it really was the official logo of the proposed Information Awareness Office. Its projected task:

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying information technology to counter asymmetric threats to national security. The IAO mission was to “imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness”.
Following public criticism that the development and deployment of these technologies could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003, although several of the projects run under IAO have continued under different funding.

The version of TIA revealed to the public was limited to overseas targets but even so drew much critical attention and attempts by Congress to impose strict limits on it, and ultimately it was largely defunded.

On January 16, 2003, Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to suspend the activity of the IAO and the Total Information Awareness program pending a Congressional review of privacy issues involved.[4] A similar measure introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would have prohibited the IAO from operating within the United States unless specifically authorized to do so by Congress, and would have shut the IAO down entirely 60 days after passage unless either the Pentagon prepared a report to Congress assessing the impact of IAO activities on individual privacy and civil liberties or the President certified the program’s research as vital to national security interests. In February 2003, Congress passed legislation suspending activities of the IAO pending a Congressional report of the office’s activities (Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, No.108–7, Division M, §111(b) [signed Feb. 20, 2003]).

. We KNOW that the Bush/Cheney Administration wanted this capability developed. That was public. We also KNOW that the Bush/Cheney Administration claimed the ability to do warrantless domestic wiretaps. It is not a huge step to add one plus one and speculate that Richard Bruce Cheney wanted to transform a portion of the CIA into a domestic USA-TIA organization that would gather all information on everybody in the country and have it available under the sole control of the one office in government that was neither part of the Executive Branch nor part of Congress and as such categorically exempt from Congressional oversight, i.e. the ‘Fourth Branch’ OVP.

Which is to say the CIA turned into an electronic version of the STASI and reporting only to Cheney and Addington (with legal advice from John Yoo.) Sure it sounds crazy, but it is consistent with every bit of public information we have about the past Administration’s policies and desires.

‘Scientia est potentia’: Knowledge is Power. Why yes it is, and a handy way to deliver an Arbitrary Executive with a Permanent Majority.