RealNews

IT Systems at U.S. Borders Found Lacking

The prospect of war in Iraq has raised new concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s progress in deploying the IT infrastructure needed to improve border security. Testifying at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing last week, Asa Hutchinson, the department’s undersecretary for border and transportation security, said the DHS would likely meet the Dec. 31 deadline for deploying a new entry/exit system at the nation’s airports and seaports. But he said the 2004 and 2005 deadlines for deploying the full array of IT systems along the land borders with Canada and Mexico could prove too difficult and expensive to meet. “That takes new systems, new infrastructure that are not even in existence today,” Hutchinson said. The need for a reliable and efficient system at the borders has been “made more urgent by the prospects of the United States going to war with Iraq and the possibility that Saddam Hussein might try to use weapons of mass destruction in America,” said Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The Department of Homeland Security’s frontline troops at the borders and ports “are woefully understaffed, working with obsolete technologies, [have] inadequate support for training [and] are simply not up to the challenge,” Flynn said. Under law, the Department of Homeland Security has until the end of 2005 to complete the deployment of an integrated entry/exit system that makes maximum use of biometric technologies to identify foreign visitors to the U.S. and reduce the possibility of terrorists using forged documents to cross the borders. Full Story

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