Congressional Record: January 15, 2003 (Senate)
Page S319-S320                      


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, as the Senate moves to the spending bill, I 
rise to discuss briefly an amendment I will be offering. It is an 
amendment I discussed with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. It is 
an amendment that would limit the scope of the Office of Total 
Information Awareness. This is a program that is now being directed by 
retired Admiral John Poindexter, the former National Security Adviser 
to former President Reagan. It is one that raises a number of important 
issues that have arisen in our country since the horrific events of 9/
  Given the fact that our country is engaged in fighting a war against 
an enemy without boundaries, clearly we must, as a Nation, take steps 
that constantly strive to balance the rights of our citizens against 
the need to protect the national security of our Nation.
  My concern is the program that has been developed by Mr. Poindexter 
is going forward without congressional oversight and without clear 
accountability and guidelines. That is why I think it is important for 
the Senate, as we reflect on the need to fight terrorism while 
balancing the need to protect the rights of our citizens, to emphasize 
how important it is a program such as this be subject to congressional 
oversight and that there be clear accountability.
  On the Web site of this particular program, the Total Information 
Awareness Program, they cite a Latin slogan: ``Knowledge is power''--
something we would all agree with:

       The total information awareness of transnational threats 
     requires keeping track of individuals and understanding how 
     they fit in to models. To this end, this office would seek to 
     develop a way to integrate databases into a ``virtual 
     centralized grand database.''

  They would be in a position to look at education, travel, and medical 
records, and develop risk profiles for millions of Americans in the 
quest to examine questionable conduct and certainly suspicious activity 
that would generate concern for the safety of the American people.
  I am of the view the Senate has a special obligation to be vigilant 
in this area so we do not approve actions or condone actions by this 
particular office that could compromise the bedrock of this Nation--our 
  I sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I know it is a difficult 
job to find and maintain the proper balance between constitutional 
rights and the need to thoroughly track down every valid lead on 
terrorism, but I will tell you, Mr. President, I think it is critically 
important that the Senate have oversight over this program and we make 
sure there is not a program of what amounts to virtual bloodhounds.
  We need to make sure there are guidelines and rules so that there has 
to be, for example, evidence there is activity that could threaten the 
country before additional intrusive steps are taken and, second, that 
there are safeguards in place at a time when it is possible, because of 
modern technology and new databases, to share information very quickly.
  The fact is much of this information is already being shared in the 
private sector, and that is why so many Americans are troubled about 
the prospect of losing privacy. What is of concern to many about the 
Office of Total Information Awareness is it will take the current 
policies that threaten the privacy of the American people and magnify 
those problems, given the fact we have not been informed as to what 
safeguards and constitutional protections would be in place when this 
program goes forward.
  It is time for the Senate to put some reins on this program before it 
grows exponentially and tips the balance with respect to privacy rights 
and the need to protect the national security in a fashion that is 
detrimental to our Nation.
  Clearly, to fight terrorism, we have to have the confidence of the 
American people. In doing so, we are protecting their rights. My 
concern is the Office of Total Information Awareness, as it is 
constituted today, tips that balance against the procedural safeguards 

[[Page S320]]

are needed to protect the rights of millions of Americans while 
fighting terrorism.
  That is why I will be offering an amendment on the spending bill to 
limit the scope of the office. That amendment will not prevent those in 
the administration who support the program to come back at a later date 
and show why additional threats warrant additional action.
  It will ensure that as this program is developed in its early days it 
is done in a fashion that is sensitive, with constitutional protections 
and safeguards, while still ensuring that our Nation can fight 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.