Monday, October 31, 2005

Anti-Terrorist Tools At Work

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Detentions of American citizens by immigration authorities for offenses large and small are becoming routine -- and have begun to stir a debate over the appropriate use of the latest technologies in the war on terror. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, immigration computers have been hooked up to the expanding database of criminal records and terrorist watch lists maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The computers are now in use at all airports, most border crossings, and even in domestic immigration offices, where clerks decide on applications for permanent residence and citizenship.

The screenings are mainly meant to trap foreigners, and especially foreign terrorists, but they have also proved to be a tool in the hunt for American citizens wanted by the police. In 2003, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says that it alone caught 4,555 Americans this way. In 2004, the number rose to 6,189.


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