Wednesday, September 28, 2005

We Almost Lost New York

John Negroponte claims that his terrorism database is working. His evidence? They arrested some guy in New York.

According to Negroponte, the New York City Police Department called the center last month because a routine search on a parking violation alerted officers that the individual might be a terrorist suspect.

"Sure enough, TSC database searches identified the subject as an alleged alien smuggler possibly associated with al-Qaida," Negroponte said.
Isn't it a marvelous age we live in, what with all its technology? This database suggested the man might be a terrorist, and so he was arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist. The system works!

Which is not to say that it's always worked:
Earlier this year, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in an audit that the database was missing some names that should be in it and had inaccurate information about others.

Donna Bucella, the center's director, has said the problems have been corrected.
The audit in question also revealed "management deficiencies, immature information technology and high personnel turnover." So how can we be sure these problems really were corrected? Well, for one thing, they arrested a guy in New York who might be a terrorist. If the system had been defective in some way, the police would've let him go free and he would've killed a bunch of people.

Of course, it's inevitable that no matter how joyous the occasion, some naysayers will refuse to celebrate, and will choose instead to indulge the carping, bitter, suspicious side of their nature with defeatist talk, as thus:
[C]itizens may not be able to access or correct this information, and they will have no judicially enforceable right of redress for negative determinations made on the basis of the information in this system. Furthermore, neither the FBI nor agencies that use TSRS information have yet identified effective redress procedures to ensure that innocent citizens are not improperly flagged again and again.
That's as may be, but it doesn't change the fact that some guy was recently arrested in New York City, on suspicion of involvement with terrorism, and our country is almost certainly better for it.

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