Friday, December 08, 2006

Illegal? Bah Humbug Says Bush Administration

Once again a Bush terrorist screening program violates existing laws. A week ago the news revealed the Homeland Security Department has a computer system which assigns a “terrorist score” based on a risk assessment. The Federal Register tipped people off to the system’s existence. The notice stated people did not have the right to see their assessments or directly challenge them.

At nearly 4 pm Eastern Time when many workers have gone home for the weekend to Christmas shop, the news shared an update to the story. Congress included a ban on such systems in their appropriations bill the past 3 years. The legislation said no funds from the appropriations bill could be used to develop or test computerized data-mining tools "assigning risk to passengers whose names are not on government watch lists."

What might happen to Bush appointees given this violation? The department's terrorist scoring program might violate the Anti-Deficiency Act, which bars government officials from spending money not appropriated by Congress. The act carries administrative penalties that include firing as well as criminal penalties for willful violations up to two years in prison. As with most white collar crime, no one ever has been prosecuted.

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