The PJ Tatler

Update: Homeland Security Says It's Canceling the Plan to Track Our License Plates

Am I being unreasonable for suspecting that this plan is either going to come back once the heat is off, or that it’s not really going away at all?

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.

The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.


Selling the plan as an attempt to track “fugitive illegal immigrants” was a nice touch. It’s also probably a lie. As is this, probably.

“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.

A multi-million dollar proposal to track license plates, a proposal that included software development and developing apps so ICE could access the license plate data from their cell phones, was posted without ICE leadership knowing about it?

We’re expected to believe that?

I’m skeptical.

But if it was posted without ICE leadership’s knowledge, as Democrat Bennie Thompson notes, even that would be a huge problem.

The fact that the solicitation was posted without knowledge of ICE leadership “highlights a serious management problem within this DHS component that currently does not have a director nominated by the president,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. He added that he hopes officials will consult with the department’s privacy and civil liberties officers in the future.

Thompson’s dig regarding ICE’s confirmation holdup notwithstanding, government agencies’ procurement departments can’t just go rogue. A program of this scale has to have been budgeted for — it would likely have been too large an expense to have been undertaken in government’s annual “Let’s spend everything we haven’t spent so we can justify a larger budget next year” routine.


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