A program intended to mine the Internet and telecommunications for bits of data related to terrorism is still on the drawing board, despite costing an estimate $1.2 billion over the past six years, according to a Baltimore Sun investigation.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has spearheaded the initiative, known as Trailblazer, aimed at connecting the dots between various information sources, such as e-mail, cell phone calls and instant messages. After spending almost $1.2 billion on the project since 1999, only a "few isolated analytical and technical tools have been produced," the article stated.
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed lawsuits against the Bush Administration for conducting wiretaps of American citizens without judicial oversight. President Bush secretly authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States without obtaining a warrant through a secret court system designed to allow foreign surveillance.
The Trailblazer system is reportedly a key technology for enabling the NSA to more broadly identify and eavesdrop on terrorism suspects. The system would allow the agency to automatically fish out key pieces of data from amongst the noise of real-time communications, according to the Baltimore Sun article. The proposed Trailblazer system resembles descriptions of the Echelon surveillance network that has occasionally been the focus of media reports.
Posted by: Robert Lemos