ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: November 18, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S11247-S11284]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

[ ... ]

[[Page S11276]]

[ ... ]

           Homeland Security

  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I rise to say a few words about the issue 
of homeland security. I will not talk at the moment about the bill 
itself, which we will vote on tomorrow, but a couple of issues dealing 
with homeland security that are very important, that have been raised 
in recent days and need to be discussed.
  One issue deals with something that is happening in the Defense 
Department. My colleague Senator Nelson from Florida spoke of it 
earlier today. That is the creation of an Information Awareness Office 
and the prospect of having an agency that would amass your most 
personal information--credit card purchases, travels, medical 
information, and so on--and put it into a single database. That 
concerns me greatly. I will speak about that in a moment.
  But first I will speak about another issue relating to homeland 
security. This is an issue that was recently highlighted by a task 
force headed by former Senator Warren Rudman and former Senator Gary 
  That task force included former Secretaries of State Warren 
Christopher and George Shultz, retired Admiral William Crowe, former 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others. There is a very 
significant blue ribbon task force.
  They issued a report that was sponsored by the Council of Foreign 
Relations. The report was titled ``America Still Unprepared, America 
Still In Danger.''

[[Page S11277]]

  The task force found that 1 year after the September 11 attacks, 
America remains--according to them--dangerously unprepared for another 
terrorist attack. At the top of the list of concerns in this task force 
was this:

       650,000 local and State police officials continue to 
     operate in a virtual intelligence vacuum without access to 
     terrorist watch lists that are provided by the United States 
     Department of State to immigration consular officials.

  Why is this important? Well, consider that 36 hours before the 
September 11 attack, one of the hijackers who piloted the plane that 
crashed in Pennsylvania, named Ziad Jarrah, a 26-year-old Lebanese 
national, was actually pulled over by the Maryland State Police for 
driving 90 miles an hour on Interstate 95. If this fellow's name had 
been on the State Department terrorist watch list--and it happens that 
it was not--there would have been no way for that Maryland State 
trooper to know it. That Maryland State trooper can type a name into 
the system and go to the NCIC where they have the database of convicted 
felons, but that trooper has no access to the watch list that the 
Immigration Service has courtesy of the State Department.
  You have all of these people around the country--law enforcement 
officials--who are actually the first line of defense and the first 
responders in the event something happens. And they are out there 
stopping people with traffic stops and stopping suspicious people who 
are driving automobiles without license tags, and so on. They don't 
have any idea whether someone they have just stopped is a known 
terrorist on a watch list prepared by the State Department and given to 
the Immigration Service and given to the consular offices. Why? Because 
they currently have no mechanism to access it.
  Right now, a county sheriff somewhere in a northern county in North 
Dakota is patrolling a road. If down that road for some reason would 
come a terrorist who crossed over a remote section on the border 
between the United States and Canada and a county sheriff stops that 
known terrorist who is on the watch list for driving 90 miles an hour 
on Highway 22, there isn't any way that county sheriff is going to be 
able to access that watch list and know that he or she has pulled over 
a known terrorist.
  That is wrong.
  Let me read an excerpt from the Hart-Rudman report, discussing what 
they regard as a top concern:

       With just 56 field offices around the nation, the burden of 
     identifying and intercepting terrorists in our midst is a 
     task well beyond the scope of the Federal Bureau of 
     Investigation. This burden can and should be shared with 
     650,000 local county and State law enforcement officers. But 
     they clearly cannot lend a hand in the counterterrorism 
     information void that now exists. When it comes to combating 
     terrorism, the police officers on the beat are effectively 
     operating deaf, dumb and blind.

  That is from the report.
  Again, quoting from the report:

       Terrorist watch lists provided by the United States 
     Department of State to immigration and consular officials are 
     still out of bounds for State and local police. In the 
     interim period, as information sharing issues get worked out, 
     known terrorists will be free to move about to plan and 
     execute their attacks without any bother from local law 
     enforcement officials because they can't know their names 
     and they can't access the list.

  My staff has been in contact with this task force. We have also been 
in contact with the State Department and the White House, asking when 
something is going to be done to connect the dots here. Since we made 
these contacts, the administration is apparently looking for ways to 
integrate that terrorist watch list--called the Tipoff database--with 
the National Crime Information Center which is accessible by State and 
local law enforcement officers. I call on the administration to 
expedite, as much as is possible, the effort to make this happen. We 
can't waste another day in this regard, as all of us know.
  The head of the CIA said the other day that we are in as much risk 
from a terrorist act as we were the day before September 11. If that is 
the case, then we ought to expect that all law enforcement officials 
around this country would have access to that terrorist watch list.
  Let me go now to the second issue. I just spoke of the need for law 
enforcement to have access to a list of known terrorists and those who 
associate with known terrorists for purposes of protecting this 
  Well, one can certainly go to the other extreme in gathering 
information in the name of homeland security. And a good example of 
that is a project that is being developed in the Department of Defense, 
by the Information Awareness Office.
  The Information Awareness Office is developing a long-term plan for 
what is called data mining. A master plan would be developed by which 
all of the information that moves around electronically in our 
country--every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine 
subscription you buy, every medical prescription you fill, every Web 
site you visit, every e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade 
you ever received, every bank deposit you made, every trip you book - 
would go into a massive database. And the Federal Government would use 
the database to identify suspicious behavior.
  That is not what we ought to be doing in this country. We ought to 
have a war on terrorism. But we ought not, in our zeal to engage in 
this war on terrorism, in any way break down the basic civil liberties 
that exist in our Constitution. The right to privacy is one of the most 
basic rights in America--the right to expect there is not a Big Brother 
with a massive computer system gathering all the information about 
everything everyone is doing in this country and evaluating it, 
perusing it, and moving it back and forth to try to determine who might 
or might not be doing something maybe suspicious.
  That is not, in my judgment, in concert with the basic civil 
liberties that we expect in this country and that are guaranteed to the 
citizens in this country. We must stop this before it starts.
  I understand that a change in law--specifically a change in the 1974 
Privacy Act--would be required to implement this data mining program. 
That, in my judgment, is not going to happen in the Congress. I would 
not support such a change, and I think most of my colleagues would 
oppose a change of that type.