Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SOPHISTICATED ANALYSIS--A DHS OXYMORON

Citizens' U.S. Border Crossings Tracked Data From Checkpoints To Be Kept for 15 Years
By Ellen Nakashima Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, August 20, 2008; A01
The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations.
Officials say the Border Crossing Information system, disclosed last month by the Department of Homeland Security in a Federal Register notice, is part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats. It also reflects the growing number of government systems containing personal information on Americans that can be shared for a broad range of law enforcement and intelligence purposes, some of which are exempt from some Privacy Act protections.
. . . DHS and other agencies are amassing more and more data that they subject to sophisticated analysis. A customs document issued last month stated that the agency does not perform data mining on border crossings to glean relationships and patterns that could signify a terrorist or law enforcement threat. But the Federal Register notice states that information may be shared with federal, state and local governments to test "new technology and systems designed to enhance border security or identify other violations of law." And the Homeland Security Act establishing the department calls for the development of data-mining tools to further the department's objectives.
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Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (their parts reprised by George Bush and Michael Chertoff) have been thus far unable to aid a stricken New Orleans or get the Trade Center rebuilt. Stumbling through no-fly lists, hardly anyone of consequence comes to America anymore--dignitaries unwilling to put up with indignities.
But trust us, they say, we won't drop this ball. Forget smaller government (did the neocons once espouse small government?), that was before we recognized the profit and control to be gleaned from large government. Can you imagine the possibilities (nudge, nudge) of having a record of everyone crossing a border?
. . . "Once you have data in a database you don't need, it lends itself to unauthorized use," she said. "You have no idea of the data creep."
Or the creeps accessing the data.
Bud and Lou would be merely another humorous pit-stop along the race to 1933 Nazi Germany, were it not for their further plans--further plans are always more fun that the drudgery of the job at hand, messed up as it happens to be, beyond all fixing. Chertoff is the master of failed plans and further plans.
Inelegantly and ignorantly stated by Bonnie Rutledge (Vermont's keeper of the motor-vehicle keys) "If you don't want to go over the border, you don't have to." We might someday have a federal law against anyone named 'Bonnie' holding public office, but unfortunately that day is not yet here. You are correct, Bonnie. There is no one with a cattle-prod forcing citizens across borders--a few Mexican citizens perhaps, but no gringos from Vermont. The problem is with business and holiday travel, that has now become of interest to Michael Chertoff. You personally, Bonnie, have probably never found it necessary to venture beyond Montpelier.
What is the saying? Beauty is only skin-deep, but stupid goes clear to the bone.
. . . "A customs document issued last month stated that the agency does not perform data mining on border crossings to glean relationships and patterns that could signify a terrorist or law enforcement threat."
Of course not. Why would they do that?
"But the Federal Register notice states that information may be shared with federal, state and local governments to test "new technology and systems designed to enhance border security or identify other violations of law." And the Homeland Security Act establishing the department calls for the development of data-mining tools to further the department's objectives."
Ja wohl! Ve haff obchectives und ve vill disclose them when ve see fit.
Not to worry, folks (or volks). Bush-Cheney are just tidying up a few things on their way out--sort of a federal old broom before the new broom occupant arrives. The final shoe to drop--and it will drop silently, with out so much as a ruffled feather, into the media pillow--is blanket presidential pardons for everyone associated, past, present or future, with this administration.
An impossible precedent, you say?
It's no longer even worthy of a smiley-face to point out impossible precedents of this Bush-Cheney administration.