Agency Infighting Delays Fingerprint Database


More than three years after the 2001 terror attacks, infighting among federal agencies has so slowed efforts to unify systems for identifying fingerprints that most visitors to the U.S. are not fully screened, Justice Department investigators said yesterday, according to the New York Times. Glenn A. Fine, the department’s inspector general, warned in fourth report on the problem that the bureaucratic disagreement “creates a risk that a terrorist could enter the country undetected.” In addition, criminal aliens – people who committed violent crimes in other nations – are often not identified before they enter the U.S.

“Progress toward the longer-term goal of making all biometric fingerprint systems fully interoperable has stalled,” Fine said. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress required that the fingerprint systems be integrated and has expressed “increasing concern” about the lack of progress. The core of the problem is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department disagree on two basic issues: whether 2 or 10 fingers should be printed and what agencies should have access to those prints.


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