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After the 2001 attacks, Poindexter returned to government with a controversial program, called Total Information Awareness, to detect the next attack. Today it is a secretly funded operation that can gather personal information on every American and millions of others worldwide. But Poindexter's dream has also become America's nightmare. Despite billions of dollars spent on this digital quest since the Reagan era, we still can't discern future threats in the vast data cloud that surrounds us all. But the government can now spy on its citizens with an ease that was impossible - and illegal - just a few years ago.
Drawing on unprecedented access to the people who pioneered this high-tech spycraft, Shane Harris shows how it has shifted from the province of right-wing technocrats to a cornerstone of the Obama administration's war on terror. Harris puts us behind the scenes and in front of the screens where 21st-century spycraft was born. We witness Poindexter quietly working from the private sector to get government to buy in to his programs in the early '90s. We see an Army major agonize as he carries out an order to delete the vast database he's gathered on possible terror cells - and on thousands of innocent Americans - months before 9/11. We follow General Mike Hayden as he persuades the Bush administration to secretly monitor Americans based on a flawed interpretation of the law.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Keefer on 09-17-11
Important context for privacy debate
Shane Harris does such a good job of explaining the rationale behind the creation of the modern US surveillance state and the motivations of the people who created it that in the end I felt it was lacking compelling arguments against such domestic spying. Despite that, the book does chronicle the rapid erosion of protections for US persons in the face of comprehensive government eavesdropping. I heartily recommend this book to anyone seeking a better understanding of privacy and surveillance issues.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Fixer74 on 02-20-17
After meeting some of the key people in this book and reading their books that connect to this subject, one can discern their biases and blind spots. This book shows good balance and unravels the information 'hairballs" that often confuse the key issues. Excellent in all respects.