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By Devin Leonard

Things are rarely dull at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was looking for a private company to scan the license plates of passing cars across the country, to create a national database of locational information.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the records would make it easier and swifter for agency investigators to apprehend dangerous people. But not to worry, she said: "This database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government."

News that the federal government wanted to indiscriminately track citizens' movements did not go over well. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson canceled the program.

Then, Christensen issued a puzzling explanation. The solicitation for a company to run the program, she said, "was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership."

It's unclear why Homeland Security thought people would be comforted to know that the agency's leaders were clueless about what was happening within the agency they run. It's also not clear why the department thought people would be comforted to know that a private company was collecting and storing data on their whereabouts. From the spokeswoman's explanation, it's possible to draw three conclusions:
  • DHS leaders either didn't know that this plan existed, or they knew but didn't intend for people outside the agency to know about the data collection, at least not yet.
  • The public only learned about it because someone at the DHS messed up.
  • You're forgiven for using exaggerated air quotes when saying, "Department of Homeland Security."

The episode "highlights a serious management problem," said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House's Homeland Security Committee.

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deltasavoy

The Government needs to get out of law abidding citizens lives, we pay their salarys and elect them to office to rep. our interests and well being, not to cater to big money corp. special interest.

February 25 2014 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
deltasavoy

Homeland Security is out of hand. They and the rest of our government along with major corp's are working on privitizing government agency's for tax payers profit grab to one day become the new plantation owners of the United States. As far as owning a vehicle that is my private property I own, not the government tracking my every move and collection of that information is in violation of my privacy, my civil liberties, and the right to live in a Demacratic country not a Socialist country

February 25 2014 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jelder5900

More police state ambitions! Pretty soon the government will want to micro-chip all citizens (for our safety against terrorists of course) and with a chip that can be tracked. That way they will know your every move. Its coming unless we stand up for the little bit of freedom we have left. These proposals are not trivial happenings, they represent a police state mentality similiar to Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union (former).

February 25 2014 at 3:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jpfmtka

LOL.. please, do track my vehicle. I drive 2 miles to the grocery store once or twice a week. Other than that, I drive to the dentist twice a year and my medical doctor once. Exciting stuff!

February 24 2014 at 7:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rgkarasiewicz

That unwarranted surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

February 24 2014 at 3:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jimmysguns

SOUNDS MORE LIKE "FATHER LAND SECURITY" NOT HOMELAND SECURITY !!

February 24 2014 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jim

Here is what the FEDS have been doing to private pilots. By the Feds I mean Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and other Departments of Homeland Security (DHS). With NO probable cause, and apparently at random, they have been tracking, stopping and surrounding small private aircraft with guns drawn, searching aircraft with no warrants or stated reasons, detaining pilots and passengers. When information about these illegal stops has been requested via freedom of information requests they have even denied the stop happened. These are no “Rogue Cops” since these well orchestrated incidents have been occurring nationwide. Yes, things are getting scary!!! Any doubt, check it out yourself.

February 24 2014 at 1:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
koos458

He said they cancelled the program, but how much do you want to bet that they didn't?

February 24 2014 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
dearthaircroi

Gee .Why not just put ankle bracelets on everyone and get it over with. Russia was never this bad.

February 24 2014 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Allen Cat

Guess they are waiting until after the mid-terms `cause the administration doesn`t want to reveal their plans to watch every move you make at this time

February 24 2014 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply