Skip to comments.Georgia Kept Adding to Crime Database
Posted on 01/31/2004 6:37:39 AM PST by Stew Padasso
Georgia Kept Adding to Crime Database
DICK PETTYS The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) _ In a crisply worded statement last October, Gov. Sonny Perdue said he was ending Georgia's participation in a multi-state crime database that tracks the personal details even of law-abiding citizens.
Yet several months later, the state still was pumping information into the database. Top Georgia law enforcement officials even attended a meeting of its members _ two weeks after Perdue's announcement.
State participation appeared to come to an end _ again _ on Friday when the administration, confronted with documents obtained by The Associated Press, said they were now pulling the plug for certain.
``We thought it already had (ended),'' said Dan McLagan, the governor's communications director. ``There was a miscommunication.''
Orders were given Friday to terminate the state's participation, he said.
The multistate database, known as Matrix _ short for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange _ combines records submitted by the participating states with 20 billion database files held by a private Florida company called Seisint Inc.
Launched with $12 billion in federal funds in a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, it has been billed as a speedy way for law enforcement agencies to find records.
Privacy rights advocates are concerned about the inclusion of information on people not accused of crimes, as well as over the scope of the data, which could include marriage and divorce records and even fingerprints.
Georgia law enforcement officials were interested in the project when it was initially proposed and provided state sex offender and prison records for the database.
But last October, Perdue said the state was dropping out of the database. His announcement came after state Attorney General Thurbert Baker ruled the state could not share driver's license records with the database unless state law was changed.
``The state of Georgia will not transfer any additional information to the company responsible for the Matrix database,'' Perdue said in a statement issued Oct. 21 by his press office.
``I have held serious concerns about the privacy issues involved with this project all along, and have decided it is in the best interest of the people of Georgia that our state have no further participation in the Matrix pilot project.''
But records obtained by the AP under a public records request in Florida show that five Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, including Director Vernon Keenan, attended a Nov. 5 meeting of the Matrix board of directors in Atlanta.
Minutes of the meeting show that Keenan told other participants that Georgia planned to continue sending data to the system, even though that appeared to contradict the governor's earlier announcement.
``Mr. Keenan stated he clarified with the Georgia governor that the state is still participating in the project and is sending the data,'' according to the minutes.
Asked about the apparent contradiction, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said the agency asked Perdue's chief operating officer, Jim Lientz, how to proceed after the governor's Oct. 21 statement.
``We were told to continue as we had in the past but not with the additional data (drivers' licenses),'' he said.
McLagan said that was a ``miscommunication'' between Lientz and the GBI.
``We wanted participation to end immediately,'' McLagan said. ``We have clarified that with the GBI and they are terminating their remaining participation in the program.''
Still in the program are Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Utah's governor on Thursday halted that state's participation in the database. Gov. Olene Walker promised to look more closely at the project, which had been set in motion during her predecessor's administration, after the American Civil Liberties Union said the program poses a more powerful threat to privacy than its organizers acknowledge.
Is that rhetorical? I haven't said I believe the system is shut down.
You know, I really dislike Ted Rall (cartoonist) but yesterday (or the day before) he had a 'toon I actually liked. It depicted a guy noticing a suspicious bag on the subway. He thought about reporting it but then he realized he would be grilled by the Feds for hours (if not days) and be accused of being a terrorist so he just left it unreported and went on his merry way.
No, you just didn't think anyone was paying attention. Standard politician. Say you're going to do something about it, talk it up a bit, and then just go on business as usual hoping no one notices. And sadly this is how this nation of states is run today. We hear a fiery speech from 'our' guy and contrary to all factual evidence contrary to what was said in the speech, we're expected to continue to believe the speech because 'our' guy said it. And any who dare question the facts are ostracized as supposedly never having supported the politician in the first place
Looks like Sonny's camp just keeps on keeping on.
Sonny Perdue is my kind of Republican.
Southack, you've made it clear you don't think privacy is a right. Perhaps it's not. But I believe not abrogating privacy is a responsibility of government.
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