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The war on terrorism changes the stakes in fundamental ways. No longer is the United States fighting against adversaries an ocean away the war has come home to this continent. Yet the war against terrorism is likely to be a long one, and Americans cannot tolerate the long-term substantial degradation of their civil liberties as the price of public safety. Many see this conundrum as irresolvable: Security must be balanced against civil liberty, and any improvement in one results in a diminution of the other. This is the wrong perspective: America is not limited to a zero-sum game. There are effective ways to limit the ability of the government to intrude into Americans’ lives while increasing security. America must adhere to fundamental and firm principles of limited government, and it can do so while also answering the terrorist threat. The challenge is not an easy one, but few worthwhile things are.The public controversy over the experimental (and unwisely named) Total Information Awareness (TIA) research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense is an instructive case study of how the challenge might be met. In response to the threat of terrorism, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 opened the Information Awareness Office (IAO), which manages the TIA program. The program is an effort to develop the technological means to “put together the pieces of the puzzle” by (in part) allowing subject- and pattern-based queries of computer databases. Once developed, and if proven effective, technology being researched under TIA eventually could help federal agencies link government information systems together to provide a national intelligence fusion capability and a less costly way to access information already available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In other words, if DARPA’s research (which is in its initial stages) is successful, a properly implemented TIA will provide intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement agencies with a variety of powerful tools for unearthing suspected terrorists.

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