Saturday, January 2, 2010

TSA Nominee Used Database to Snoop On Wife's Boyfriend

Another day, another Obama administration nominee in trouble:
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show...
[Erroll] Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as "inadvertent" and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a "grave error in judgment" in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife's new boyfriend...
Civil liberties specialists said that the misuse of databases has been common among law enforcement authorities for many years, despite an array of local, state and federal prohibitions intended to protect personal information. Studies have found that police at every level examine records of celebrities, women they have met and political rivals. Some federal authorities have been jailed for selling records to criminals.
Southers also refuses to say whether he favors allowing TSA screeners to unionize. Given the hassles at airport security checkpoints as it is, can you imagine piling crazy union workrules on top of that?

Speaking of security at airports, open borders advocate Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, announced a new international airport security initiative:
Senior Homeland Security officials will meet with leaders at major airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East in the coming weeks "to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on flights bound for the United States," the department announced this afternoon. Napolitano said she would follow up on those meetings with her own "ministerial level" discussions.

Intelligence Reviewer Has Major Conflict of Interest

Remember all that cockamamie campaign rhetoric about banning all those horrible lobbyists from the administration? According to Politico, never mind about all that:
President Barack Obama promised a “thorough review” of the government’s terrorist watch list system after a Nigerian man reported to U.S. government officials by his father to have radicalized and gone missing last month was allowed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit that he later allegedly tried to blow up without any additional security screening.
Yet the individual Obama has chosen to lead the review, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, served for 35 years in the CIA, helped design the current watch list system and served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, whose role is under review.
In the three years before joining the Obama administration, Brennan was president and CEO of The Analysis Corp., an intelligence contracting firm that worked closely with the National Counterterrorism Center and other U.S. government intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies on developing terrorism watch lists.
In the meantime, Newsweek claims that Obama received pre-Christmas intel about terror threats to the homeland:
President Barack Obama received a high-level briefing only three days before Christmas about possible holiday-period terrorist threats against the US, Newsweek has learned. The briefing was centered on a written report, produced by US intelligence agencies, entitled "Key Homeland Threats", a senior US official said.
The senior Administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that nowhere in this document was there any mention of Yemen, whose Al-Qaeda affiliate is now believed to have been behind the unsuccessful Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down a transatlantic airliner with a bomb hidden in his underpants. However, the official declined to disclose any other information about the substance of the briefing, including what kind of specific warnings, if any, the President was given about possibly holiday attacks and whether Yemen came up during oral discussions.
By the way, as we've mentioned previously, the media used to go nuts about Bush's Crawford, Texas, vacations, but have they said word one about Obama's extended Hawaiian holiday in the midst of a terror attack?

In a related development, Obama reached back into the Bush administration to appoint Howard Schmidt as White House cybersecurity "czar." Schmidt, a former special cybersecurity advisor to President George W. Bush, specialized in computer security and forensics as an investigator for the FBI, the Air Force, and local law enforcement. In the private sector, he held executive positions related to cyber-security at Microsoft and eBay.