All posts by Shahar

Total Information Asshole

Poindexter on the Loose

The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, currently underway in the Pentagon, with 250 million taxpayer dollars, goes way beyond your typical privacy infringement effort by the U.S. government. With TIA, we’re running into some truly weird and scary stuff.

Here are the basic facts: Admiral John Poindexter was appointed by President Bush to head a Pentagon program called “Total Information Awareness (TIA).” This program, according to its own website, will “increase information coverage by an order of magnitude,” “integrate technologies developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) (and elsewhere as appropriate) into a series of increasingly powerful prototype systems,” and “develop revolutionary new models, algorithms, methods, tools, and techniques for analyzing and correlating information in the database to derive actionable intelligence.”

What this means is that the Department of Defense (DoD) will integrate the many existing commercial and government databases, such as credit card transactions, automobile rentals, airlines, passports, drivers licenses, online transactions, magazine subscriptions, medical prescriptions, emails sent and received, events attended, and any other conceivable electronic record, into one massive database. In a process called data-mining, they will then think of cool new ways to analyze this information to find “terrorists.” Note: the TIA website does not define “terrorist.”

Data-mining is the broad search of public and non-public databases in the absence of a particularized suspicion about a person, place or thing. Data mining looks for “suspicious” patterns of relationships between routine computer tracked transactions and people.

TIA is a significant departure from traditional security and intelligence efforts because the program is designed to watch data from everyone in the world, whether there is any reason whatsoever to think they may be doing something illegal or not. Thus, it is a shift from a world in which the government might investigate some people because they are acting “suspicious” to a world in which the government watches everyone all the time to decide if they are acting “suspicious.” The very concept of privacy is rendered obsolete by the creation of an all-observing government agency like TIA.

In modern society, a person’s whole life is routinely recorded as they have daily interactions with computers. Prior to the TIA proposal, this lead to the theoretical possibility of a world in which every step of our lives were observed and tracked. The possibility was theoretical because our daily actions were noted by many different computers owned by many different entities — no one computer added up all the different bits of information to form a coherent and complete picture of everyone’s activities. The computer from your credit card company wasn’t linked to the supermarket’s computer which wasn’t linked to the state driver’s license computer, which wasn’t linked to the FBI computer which wasn’t lined to your internet ISP, which wasn’t linked to your health insurance company’s computer.

The purpose of the TIA is to link up the data from all of these various sources and create a single, mega-database which gives its owner a very thorough picture of everyone’s lives. The owners of the data would work in secret, unaccountable to the common people, using billions of taxpayer dollars. The idea gets even more Orwellian if the federal government institutes a national ID card which must be repeatedly scanned, or if face recognition technology gets linked with the ever increasing number of video cameras being installed throughout the world. Government officials have already begun to routinely collect DNA samples in a variety of contexts from prisons to schools, raising the future possibility of linking genetic data into a TIA computer.

The TIA is such a significant change from prior police practice that the recently passed Homeland Security Act had to change laws which had previously prohibited US government agencies from spying on US citizens. This was necessary to permit construction of TIA.

Another tidbit worth knowing: Poindexter, the old white man in charge, is the same guy who was convicted on five felony counts, including lying to Congress, destroying documents and obstructing Congress in its investigation of the Iran-Contra affair in the mid 1980s.

From the New York Times: “It was Admiral Poindexter’s technological expertise that permitted him to create a back door, named ‘private blank check,’ in the e-mail system to circumvent normal White House channels, according to David A. Wallace, a specialist in electronic records at the School of Information at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The system made it possible for the admiral to oversee the illegal activities of Col. Oliver North.”

“‘Clearly Poindexter consciously manipulated the system to act in a way to hide information,’ Mr. Wallace said. ‘When faced with a system of checks and balances, he decided to act illegally. What does this say about the person who we are putting in charge of designing the most comprehensive surveillance system on U.S. citizens ever?’” (New York Times, January 20, 2003).

That’s the basic run-down on Poindexter. But let’s go a bit further. Please look at the originally conceived logo for the TIA program. (It’s since been toned down slightly, due to considerable public reaction. But only slightly.) What’s this thing all about?

The TIA program is run by the Information Awareness Office (IAO) in DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). DARPA, by the way, is the same people who invented the Internet…maybe now we’re beginning to see why. The motto of IAO is “Scientia Est Potentia,” “Knowledge is Power.” True enough. (And our unusual ally William Safire says “Exactly: the government’s infinite knowledge about you is its power over you.”) Then you have the thirteen-level pyramid with the all-seeing-eye cornerstone unattached, emitting light unto the World. Notice that the light would be shining mostly on North America.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. Quite the opposite, I am talking about these occult symbols because they need to be understood in a more down-to-earth context. Without getting into a full lecture on the influence of Freemasonry on the U.S. government and the history and goal of Freemasonry itself, one can state with absolute certainty that these symbols are of freemasonic origin, as are the symbols on the U.S. dollar bill and the Great Seal of the United States. The number 13 is a favorite with freemasons, as are the symbolic associations of the pyramids of Egypt. When asked about the symbol, Poindexter said “in his mind, the eye had represented the letter I, the pyramid the letter A and the globe the letter O a way of describing his new organization.” (New York Times, January 20, 2003) Funny, because “IAO,” as an informed freemason would know, is another name for the Sun God that Freemasons call “The Grand Architect of the Universe.” For example, here’s a quote from Isis Unveiled, by Madame Blavatsky, a classic in occult literature: “[Occult author] Movers gives a definition of the Phoenician idea of the ideal sunlight as a spiritual influence issuing from the highest God, I.A.O., the light conceivable only by intellect – the physical and spiritual Principle of all things; out of which the soul emanates.” (Isis Unveiled, Madame H.P. Blavatsky, Volume 1, p. 61)

“The light conceivable only by intellect”. Keep this phrase in mind, it is fundamental to a more full understanding of IAO, the Information Awareness Office. In other words, the Sun, and it’s Phoenician God, IAO, represents Reason. The light of Reason. The God of the Enlightenment, of the Deists, of the Founding Fathers, of Freemasonry. This light is symbolized by the Sun, and has been for thousands of years.

When I’ve mentioned this to people, some think that the “IAO” in Information Awareness Office must be completely coincidental. They didn’t choose it because it’s the name of the Phoenician Sun-God. But if we know that all of the symbols in the logo are blatantly of freemasonic origin, and the important texts of freemasonry all mention IAO as another name for this Sun-God that symbolizes “Reason,” then it seems highly unlikely that these three letters were chosen by coincidence. (See Aleister Crowley, Magick and Theory in Practice, Chapter 5, “The Formula of I.A.O.”) In my opinion, the chances of the government choosing IAO by accident are zero. What’s more disconcerting is that according to the New York Times article, Poindexter is actually aware of the occult symbolism that the logo references. It seems he sees the TIA program as a step toward the creation of the “New Order of the Ages” (Novus Ordo Seclorum) we see on our one-dollar bills, and that Freemasons value so highly.

Now, I’d like to emphasize that I don’t think this is about aliens or satanic forces or some lost civilization. That would be too easy. I would like, however, to put forward a hypothesis, from an anarchist perspective, on how to understand the often misunderstood connections between our government and Freemasonry. I do this because many well-meaning people, anarchists included, get fooled into a dangerous inaction by the many conspiracy theories out there.

According to one Freemason, “freedom of religion, of conscience, and of thought are Freemasonry’s highest goal.” Sounds lovely. And I believe them, except that those are also the stated goals of the United States of America. We all know, however, that in attempting to achieve those goals, the United States can’t seem to avoid slavery and genocide in various forms. How does “freedom of religion” lead to genocide of Native Americans and enslavement of Africans? Is the U.S. government actually run by a bunch of Satan-worshipping wackos having orgies in the Bohemian Grove? No — I truly believe that deep deep (very deep) down, they mean well. Let’s look at the logo again — the dominant symbol is the light of the sun, and IAO is the name for the Phoenician Sun-god. The Sun, by most people, is seen as a positive symbol of the source of light and knowledge. And yes, the Sun is a source of light. But it is not the only one, and that is a fundamental error. What the Freemasons, all of their predecessors, and the imperialist drive for endless expansion are ultimately founded upon is the mistaken belief that they are uniquely right and good, that they are the true beneficiaries of the light and energy of the Sun, that they are “enlightened.” Another way of thinking about it is that the Sun represents a dominating attachment to Mind or Reason as the highest form of knowledge. But, as the Sun is not the only source of light, the Mind is not the only source of knowledge.

Cultural theorists (and Holocaust survivors) Horkheimer and Adorno (The Dialect of Enlightenment) have already shown how the so-called “Enlightenment” inexorably led toward such civilized phenomena as the Holocaust and Hiroshima. And let’s please recall that the swastika, Hitler’s symbol of choice, is simply an abstract representation of the sun, used by sun worshippers for thousands of years. Why not throw in the Christian cross while we’re at it? And what do you know, it’s on our dollar bill in the form of the all-seeing-eye emitting rays of light.

The question of when and how sun-worship, i.e., mind-worship, arose is interesting and highly controversial. Many think that mind-sun-worship is equal to the rise of the rise of Western Civilization, beginning with the birth of systematic agriculture in the ancient Near East. Others might posit that it has always been an aspect of human existence. Where we come down on this issue has important consequences in terms of our thinking about the best way to create the change we want to see in the world. In either case, however, it is obvious that the State as it exists, and the TIA exemplifies this perfectly, is addicted to the Mind/Sun framework, and this realization helps us understand our relationship to the State.

It is important to attempt to understand what the deepest roots of something like the Total Information Awareness program are. Poindexter, Bush, the DoD, all of them, really think they’re protecting freedom and progress by pursuing a mega-database that can be used to watch and screw with anyone they choose. That’s because they think they’re the only ones who know what freedom and progress are. Because they think they’re “enlightened.” And yes, in a limited sense, they are protecting freedom and progress: their own. And that is sad, because we can clearly see how that limited sense of “freedom” continues to cause great suffering, and, most paradoxically, constraint.

Nothing like this has happened for a long time in the U.S. government. That is, nothing so blatantly Freemasonic and creepy has been pushed by an administration, since FDR (a high-ranking Freemason) put the all-seeing-eye on the dollar bill. In some way it’s a good thing: it reminds people that the State wants Power, and will get it however it can. It also has made people think about the bizarre symbols of the U.S. government. When one looks at them for a moment, they loudly proclaim the genocidal nature of our supposed “progress.” And here in the TIA logo we have another abstract representation of the Sun — when will people realize that our government runs by the same fundamental ideology as the Third Reich, and every other imperial government before that one?

We can say that the TIA is wrong, but we cannot say that what we’re doing, whatever it may be, is absolutely right. It is not about light and dark, good and bad. That’s falling into the sun-worshipping trap.

All of us, anarchists included, can be sun-worshippers: that is, think we know The Truth, think we are enlightened, for that is essentially what sun-worship is all about, and it is a lie. We can appreciate the sun as a source of light and energy, but know that it is just a part of a much larger whole. It is this fundamental arrogance that builds empires, commits holocausts, enslaves whole peoples, and creates TIA systems.