Tomorrow at noon, the International Spy Museum is having a lunchtime discussion with journalist Shane Harris on his new book, The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State. In his new book, Harris tracks the government’s elusive quest to build a computer system that can sift huge amounts of electronic data for signs of terrorist activity. First proposed by national security adviser John Poindexter in 1983, reopened after the 9/11 attacks in a program called Total Information Awareness (TIA), and publicly banned by Congress in 2003, TIA was recreated as a classified program at the National Security Agency and is now a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s national security policy. Drawing on unprecedented access to the people who pioneered this high-tech spycraft, Harris contends that despite billions of dollars spent on this digital quest since the Reagan era, the government still can’t discern future threats in the vast data cloud, but can now spy on its citizens with an ease that was impossible and illegal just a few years ago.
A quick interview with the author after the jump. Continue reading