Sunday, March 25, 2007

TIDE Gets Society cleaner

Here you can read about the Terror Database known as TIDE, or Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which has quadrupled in the last four years. Apparently, information gets fed into the database in Mclean, Virginia, from around the world, be it intelligence reports, gossip, or news reports. "The bar for inclusion is low, and once someone is on the list, it is virtually impossible to get off it." TIDE includes Americans and non-Americans, and is collaborated with FBI information on Americans for a daily addition of 1,000 to 1,500 names. The total was something like 235,000 names when last checked. There are 80 analysts who get "thousands of messages a day".

It was surprising how sloppy the list is. Not only is the data of vague quality, but so is its assesment. For instance, if you have the same name as someone on the list, you will still get flagged at the airport. Senator Ted Steven's wife Catherine Stevens was put on the no-fly list because she was mistaken for Cat Stevens and he's not allowed into the country. Actually, if you've ever listened to a Cat Stevens album, you know that this is probably the first thing they've done right in the war on terror!

Overall, the database seems to be as poorly constructed as such databases usually are. This is always the problem- too many people on the list, too few people to check the lists, no transparency whatsoever. But, perhaps the point isn't to 'control' or 'surveil' anyway. Remember: The operations of the state seek mainly to justify the existence of the state. These databases exist largely to justify the existence of the databases. Of course they're lousy. That's not the point. The point is to get a lot of names in order to have a large database. When people worry about the growing police state, I hear where they're coming from, but I'm not sure that these 'watchdogs' aren't just below average intelligence joes looking to keep their jobs.

That's not exactly reassuring though.

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