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by CSO Contributor

Report: U.S. Vulnerable Without Master Database; Senate Leaders Scuttle Gun Bill over Changes; Some Election Glitches Reported

Mar 03, 20043 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Report: U.S. Vulnerable Without Master Database

According to a USA Today story today, U.S. border authorities and the FBI are still four years away from developing a master database of fingerprints and criminal histories that would instantly identify dangerous illegal immigrants, Justice Department investigators have found. In a report issued yesterday, the Justice Department’s inspector general cited cases in which the absence of a universal database system contributed to the release of two illegal immigrants who had a history of offenses in the United States and went on to claim more victims. In both cases, USA Today reports, Justice Department investigators found that U.S. border agents either did not know how to access FBI records or did not follow through on record searches, even when they were prompted to conduct further checks by their own databases. Justice investigators said border agents are often overwhelmed by the daily streams of illegal immigrants and are unable to conduct adequate background checks.Senate Leaders Scuttle Gun Bill over ChangesNew York Times, the Senate yesterday overwhelmingly rejected a measure to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. The 90-to-8 vote against the measure followed a week of debate in which both sides thought the bill, which was backed by the White House, would pass with bipartisan support. But Republicans abruptly withdrew their support for the bill because Democrats had tacked on amendments to renew the 10-year assault weapons ban and require background checks on customers at gun shows. The defeat of the immunity bill came after Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, sent e-mail messages to senators urging them to reject it. LaPierres message said his group would use the vote “in our future evaluations and endorsement of candidates,” the Times reports. Backers of the bill that would shield gun makers and dealers from lawsuits, so long as they did not sell defective weapons or violate any laws, vowed to try again, but probably not this year. The vote injected the volatile issue of gun control squarely into the presidential campaign, says the Times.

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Some Election Glitches and elsewhere, Super Tuesday voters in Maryland, Georgia and California encountered scattered technical problems yesterday, largely blamed on human error, as electronic voting machines got their biggest U.S. test so far. As many as 6 million registered voters in California were casting ballots on touchscreen machines. All voting in Maryland and Georgia was electronic. Problems encountered included machines that failed to boot up properly, forcing voters to wait until they were fixed or to go to another polling spot to cast paper ballots; touchscreen voting machines that showed the wrong precincts options, or touchscreen machines that were unprogrammed. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that some Cuyahoga County voters were rankled to that they had to produce identification before being allowed to cast their ballots Tuesday. Others had to navigate polling places darkened by a brief afternoon power failure in at least 10 eastern suburbs. Elsewhere in Ohio, The Cincinnatti Post reports that Hamilton County won’t be attempting any trial runs of computerized, touch screen voting systems anywhere in the county because election officials haven’t decided yet precisely which system will be used or what security upgrades would be added to them. Federal mandates had called for punch-card systems to be replaced before the 2004 presidential election.

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