Pentagon Spy Database Funding Revealed
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
February 27, 2003, 4:42 PM PT
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Defense Department has awarded millions of dollars to more than two-dozen research projects that involve a controversial
data-mining project aimed at compiling electronic dossiers on Americans.
Nearly 200 corporations and universities submitted proposals to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to government documents
brought to light by a privacy group Thursday. John Poindexter, who oversees the agency's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, approved 26 of
them last fall, including grants to the University of Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and defense contractor Science Applications
Over the last few months, TIA has become a lightning rod for criticism, with Republican and Democratic legislators speaking out against it on privacy
and security grounds. On Feb. 20, as part of a large spending bill for the federal government, Congress approved additional scrutiny of research and
development on the TIA project.
Those restrictions do not halt TIA research. They would permit the 26 grants to be fully funded if Poindexter sends Congress a "schedule for proposed
research and development" that includes a privacy evaluation, or if President George W. Bush certifies that TIA is necessary for national security.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a civil liberties group in Washington, won a court order forcing Poindexter to disclose
approximately 180 pages of documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents show that funds for TIA and two related information-analyzing projects, Genisys and Genoa II, have been awarded to companies including
CyCorp of Austin, Texas, for a "Terrorism knowledge base," 21st Century Technologies of Austin, Texas, for "AUDIT: Automated Detection,
Identification, and Tracking of Deceptive Terrorist Activity," and Evolving Logic of Topanga, Calif. for "Confronting Surprise: Robust Adaptive
Planning for Effective Total Information Awareness."
University recipients include the University of Southern California, for its "JIST: Just-In-caSe just-in-Time Intelligence Analysis" system, and
Colorado State University. Columbia University applied for, but did not receive, a grant for its proposal for "Behavior-Based Profiling of User
Accounts to Detect Malicious, Errant, and Fraudulent Internet Activity."
"It shows the breadth and impact of this program, which its defenders have tried to describe as being on the drawing board or in the research
stages," said EPIC director Marc Rotenberg. "The activity is extraordinary. This is a Defense-funded project for domestic surveillance, and it's
very important not to lose sight of that."
It's unclear how much money is being awarded to the grant recipients. A Defense Department notice suggested that the "annual budget for each is in
the $200,000 to $1,000,000 range."
A DARPA representative on Thursday declined to provide additional details about funding or on what the projects entail, saying the proposals would not
be made public. "The companies put private information in their proposals," the representative said.
A representative of Veridian, of Arlington, Va. refused to disclose details. The information-system provider won an unspecified amount for a grant
proposal titled, "Human augmentation of reasoning through patterning."
"This is an area that I need to refer you directly to DARPA," the Veridian representative said. "They're the customer, and they've asked us to
refer calls to them."