Wednesday, April 27, 2016

House Passes HR 4240 – TSDB Report

Today the House passed HR 4240, the No Fly for Foreign Fighters Act, under suspension of the rules. There was only 17-minutes of debate and the bill passed on a voice vote. The bill would require a report to Congress on the efficacy of the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).

While the bill would require a report to Congress it neglects to consider the single biggest problem with the TSDB; the false positive rate and the lack of a meaningful method of redress for those false positives. As the TSDB is starting to be used to verify the lack of terrorist ties of current employees of a large number of chemical facilities under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, the issue of false positives is likely to raise some very painful issues at a number of chemical facilities.

The report requirements specified in this bill have nothing to do with preventing foreign fighters from flying into or within the United States. Instead it will probably have the effect of making it easier to add unverified names to the TSDB; thereby exacerbating the problem of false positives.

The failure of Congress to even entertain questions about the false positive problem is indicative of the knee jerk reactions of our elected representatives when they see security failures. Unfortunately, this bill will probably be considered under the unanimous consent provisions in the Senate where there will be even less (actually no) debate and not even a pro-forma voice vote.

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