Thanks, Kevin. But that would mean a lot more to travelers if you hadn't spent so much time after 9/11 trying to, well, stop the government from spending incremental dollars on intelligence gathering and risk-management analysis and sharing, which at the time you were calling "invasive screening" and "data mining."
Kevin Mitchell's Business Travel Coalition was a leader in opposing Automated Targeting System (ATS), the database that is used by CBP to keep terrorists out of the country. That's the one that seems to worry al Qaeda so much that it keeps trying to blow up planes before its operatives have to go through US immigration and customs. It is one of the most effective "intelligence gathering and risk-management analysis" systems the US has. Yet if Mitchell had his way, the system would have been suspended or killed years ago. Here's an excerpt from one letter he signed in 2006 about ATS:
screening of millions of business travelers entering and exiting the
U.S. could do significant personal harm to them, and reduce the
productivity of the organizations that field business travelers.
ATS is a truly monolithic and disturbing data-mining program which
allows for the aggregation of personal information on business
travelers; forbids travelers from accessing and correcting
inaccuracies; provides for the sharing of such information with
foreign governments and third parties; and retains travelers’ personal
information in a dossier for 40 years.
Of particular worry is that ATS was widely thought to be strictly for
cargo screening. It was discovered only recently that data on
travelers have been collected for at least four years without the
awareness of the U.S. Congress or foreign governments whose citizens
are being profiled. What's more, a dossier is being maintained on
these travelers without their knowledge or consent.
We Signatories to this letter urge you to suspend the ATS program
immediately; provide substantially more details on the program to us
and our elected representatives; and proceed with ATS only through an
official rulemaking with a significant public comment period, per
requirements of the U.S. Privacy Act of 1974."
I am glad when anyone converts, of course, but Mr. Mitchell ought to admit somewhere that he's been on the other side of this debate for years.
Perhaps you could gather all that information, analyze it, but just not put it in anything called a "database."
Posted by: Orin Kerr | Dec 29, 2009 at 12:46 AM
Orin, man, I hope you are spoofing......
Posted by: Matty_J | Dec 29, 2009 at 07:52 AM
In the 21st century, why do "business" people have to travel anyway?
Posted by: thedoctor2001 | Dec 29, 2009 at 09:12 AM
Whap! I'm not a big fan of I-told-you-so's but national security is an exception. Keep up the good work.
Posted by: Alex | Dec 29, 2009 at 09:18 AM
Are Post-It Notes considered a database? :-)
I'm no fan of Big Government. But we're at war. We are at war.
And those who discount our enemy's resolve are whistling past the graveyard.
Posted by: Tex Lovera | Dec 29, 2009 at 09:26 AM
Since we brought home the movie "UP" the phrase "Squirrel!" has become synonymous with a quick misdirection at our house. There's a lot of yelling squirrel by the Obama Administration and enough of it revolves around national security to be scary.
Posted by: Quilly Mammoth | Dec 29, 2009 at 09:46 AM
Of course, ATS doesn't catch foreign terrorists. Just people who have no FBI file, no intelligence dossier, no terrorist history or background and it retains their information in insecure databases indefinitely in the name of National Security. It seems most terrorists who have ever been a threat to Der Vunterland United States have had intel files. Databases would ordinarily be fine but I think the American government is casting a net that is too wide and wasting resources to catch bonafide threats. Unless that isn't the real objective. If it's not, then the privacy hawks are going to be there with their lawyers and their Bill of Rights telling you to stop yelling, "TERRORIST" in retrospect after you failed to do your job with what intel you had. Criminalizing innocent Americans for doing terrible things like, travelling, or being a US citizen is as misdirected as asking Americans to sacrifice their freedom for your ability to lazily write checks for technology that doesn't catch terrorists.
Posted by: BeatTheChip.org | Dec 30, 2009 at 04:28 PM
"Criminalizing innocent Americans for doing terrible things like, travelling, or being a US citizen..."
Congratulations, you failed to read the blog post. You get NOTHING. You LOSE. Good DAY, sir.
Posted by: DensityDuck | Dec 31, 2009 at 11:12 AM