Information Awareness Office (IAO) Revisited

Established in January 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11, the Information Awareness Office (IAO) was a short-lived agency that oversaw the U.S. domestic surveillance program.

In 2003, IAO was axed by Congress following public criticism that the agency was overstepping its Constitutional authority. What with the in-your-face all-seeing eye in the triangle seemingly torn straight from the pages of Illuminatus!, the IAO seal possessed imagery suggesting an Orwellian nightmare come true, replete with an ominous death ray shooting a malevolent beam over the planet.

Cover of Dell's
The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

During the period when IAO was going hot and heavy, Robert Anton Wilson made a habit of cc’ing his outgoing email to then IAO grand poobah, John Poindexter. To this end, Bob figured that by sending his email directly to Poindexter it would eliminate the need for anyone to maintain surveillance on him, thus eliminating a paid position and cutting down on government waste. “Besides,” Bob told me, “It amuses me to think of Poindexter reading my emails.”

In a May 2002 phone conversation, I asked Bob if “They” had intentionally lifted the IAO seal from the cover of The Illuminatus! Trilogy (Amazon). “I don’t know what the Hell’s going on,” Bob replied. “I think we’re being taken over by a bunch of surrealists.”

Nazi Eye illustration.

The acronym, IAO—it should be noted—was a mystical formula used by Uncle Aleister Crowley in his Freemasonic based magick rituals, the same kind of hocus pocus that certain sinister factions of Nazi Germany dipped their spooky toes into. For example, here is a Nazi era illustration (provided courtesy of my good friend Vyzygoth) that once again summons up the surreal spectre of IAO.

The more things change…

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