|The Pentagon reported on Tuesday that it was prematurely terminating its experimental program to set up an online futures market where traders could bet on future terrorist attacks, conspiracy theories, political rumours and assassinations in the Middle East of say Yasser Arafat or King Abdullah II of Jordan.|
The abrupt decision came the same day that news organizations across the nation publicized the Policy Analysis Market. The program had been scheduled to start taking in money on Friday. The controversial program sponsored by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would have been operated by private technology firm Net Exchange with content from the Economist Intelligence Unit (information division of The Economist magazine).
According to Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz it’s been terminated and added that the officials got too imaginative in this case. The Policy Analysis Market, put online at www.policyanalysismarket.org by the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), aimed to let anonymous traders log on and wager money on when and whether such events as the overthrow of the Jordanian monarchy might take place.
The $3 Million FutureMap program or Futures Market Applied to Prediction proposes to use ‘external sources’ for forecasting and maybe even preventing disturbing political and world events. As many 10,000 registered users (who can be anonymous) or was expected.
The biggest critics of this scheme are US Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, both Democrats, have put brakes on it, before it starts registering ‘traders’ on August 1. Wyden also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee commented harshly ‘The idea of a federal betting parlour on atrocities and terrorism is ridiculous and grotesque’. Wyden’s other issue is that the trading scheme is overseen by Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) Chief retired admiral John Poindexter, a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which US officials illegally funded Nicaraguan rebels with proceeds from also-illegal arms sales to Iran in the mid-1980s. Wyden hasn’t spared another DARPA program - (TIA), an Orwellian surveillance initiative that raised concerns about invasions of individuals' privacy.