April 17, 2007
TDEX followup

Previously, I mentioned that Rep. David Swinford had promised to amend his HB13 to include DPS oversight of the TDEx database. Here's a statement from Rep. Richard Raymond, who had introduced HB4108 for that purpose after news of TDEx became public:

"Chairman Swinford informed me yesterday that he was going to accept my bill, HB 4108, as an amendment to his bill HB 13, which addresses Homeland Security issues. I feel this is a step in the right direction and I'm glad the Chairman recognized our concerns," said Rep. Raymond. "The bottom line is we want to build a data base for law enforcement purposes that protects the homeland, but also protects the privacy rights of Texans who should not be on a Terrorist Watch List."

Rep. Raymond noted that during the past 16 months there were apparently some security breaches and there was also loss of data. "We are waiting to hear back from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, in order to find out exactly how often there were security breaches, what happened to the data that was lost, who were the non-enforcement individuals that have had access to the data base, how many people are on the Governor's Terrorist Watch List and what is the criteria for being put on that list," said Rep. Raymond.

"We need to find out how many non-law enforcement government employees in Gov. Perry's Office and non-law enforcement, non-government employees had access to this information, who they were and what type of information they accessed," said Rep. Raymond.

Rep. Raymond and other legislators have requested this information from Steve McCraw, Director of Texas Homeland Security. They are still awaiting for a response to these requests, which were made last Friday, during a hearing of the House Committee on State Affairs.

"I want to know the purpose of the Governor's Terrorist Watch list. We need some further explanation why this watch list is in the millions and I would like to know all the types of information they are gathering on the people who are being put on the list," said Rep. Raymond.

Although Chairman Swinford may adopt Rep. Raymond's bill as an amendment, Rep. Raymond will still push for passage of his bill, HB 4108, in case the language does not survive in Swinford's bill.

So there you go. Meanwhile, if you'd like to know if you are among the records in the TDEx database, the Observer tells you how to find out. If anyone tries that, please let me know what response you get. If I get a spare minute, I'll try it myself.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2007 to That's our Lege