CounterTerrorism and Bureaucracy
In “Bureaucracy Kills,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross writes (quoting CNN):
FEMA halted tractor trailers hauling water to a supply
staging area in Alexandria, Louisiana[.] The New York Times quoted
William Vines, former mayor of Fort Smith, Arkansas, as saying, “FEMA
would not let the trucks unload. . . . The drivers were stuck for
several days on the side of the road” because, he said, they did not
have a “tasker number.” He added, “What in the world is a tasker
number? I have no idea. It’s just paperwork and it’s ridiculous.”
Paperwork should not take precedence over helping those in need in a
time of crisis. And just as we should trim our bureaucracy to allow a
more effective disaster response, so too should we make sure that law
enforcement officers charged with protecting us from terrorists are not
shackled by red tape.
He’s right about that; the officers should not be shackled by red tape. They should, however, be under close scrutiny: their actions must be monitored in light of the long history of abuses by American domestic intelligence agencies.
Its not an easy balance to strike.
On a closely related note, The Canadian Privacy Law Blog points to a story, “Florida cop misused data, ChoicePoint claims.” That’s actually a fascinating story of how Choicepoint is improving their internal audit practices, which is also covered in the AP’s “ChoicePoint Seeks an Anti-Fraud Balance.” That’s another good story on how Choicepoint is actively interacting with their customers to make sure that they’re selling to real businesses. It also contains the wonderfully ironic bit of a private investigator complaining:
Cynthia Hetherington, a private investigator in New Jersey, had to send ChoicePoint a copy of her investigator’s license twice. The company agent also wanted bank account information “and stuff that has nothing to do with my credentials or the nature of my business.”
“It’s absolutely intrusive,” she said.