Wired News reports that the Senate's defense appropriations bill denies all funding to the controversial
Total Terrorism Information Awareness program, which would create a massive database of activities of law-abiding citizens, ostensibly to detect patterns indicating if someone is a terrorist.
The Senate's $368 billion version of the 2004 defense appropriations bill, released from committee to the full Senate on Wednesday, contains a provision that would deny all funds to, and thus would effectively kill, the Terrorism Information Awareness program, formerly known as Total Information Awareness. TIA's projected budget for 2004 is $169 million.
TIA is the brainchild of John Poindexter, a key figure from the Iran-Contra scandal, who now heads the research effort at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Critics on the left and right have called TIA an attempt to impose Big Brother on Americans. The program would use advanced data-mining tools and a mammoth database to find patterns of terrorist activities in electronic data trails left behind by everyday life.
The Senate bill's language is simple but comprehensive: "No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense ... or to any other department, agency or element of the Federal Government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program."
The removal of funds from the program marks the strongest Congressional reaction to TIA since it first gained prominent media attention in November 2002.
This development is excellent, but of course is not the final word until the appropriations bill is passed and signed.