Morning Security Brief: Designating Safe Havens, Drug Testing Florida Workers, and Searching for Illegal Immigrants
The U.S. government is failing to designate countries as safe havens for terrorists. The ACLU is filing a lawsuit against the state of Florida over its drug testing program. And, New York is withdrawing support for a federal fingerprinting program.
♦ The U.S. government’s assessments to determine whether foreign countries are safe havens for terrorism are not thorough enough, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. An annual report by the U.S. State Department identified 13 countries as safe havens for terrorism in 2010. However, none of the assessments on these countries included information on whether they take action to prevent trafficking in weapons of mass destruction—a query recommended by Congress. Similarly, about a quarter of the assessments failed to include information on whether the countries cooperate with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, another congressional recommendation. The National Security Council was tasked with presenting a separate report to Congress on countries that provide safe havens for terrorists under the 2010 defense appropriations law. The report was due in September 2010 but has not been completed.
♦ A lawsuit filed against the state of Florida seeks to halt a controversial drug testing program enacted by Gov. Rick Scott. Under the program, all government employees will undergo drug testing. The testing is not based on a suspicion of drug use or on whether the employee has a high security position. Though Scott’s executive order did not specify how often the testing would be done, it did note that agencies should be able to test all employees “at least quarterly.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of a union that represents 50,000 state employees. In the complaint, the ACLU noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that suspicionless drug testing by the government is unreasonable “except under certain special circumstances, such as those involving employees in safety-sensitive positions where there is a concrete danger of real harm.” (Read the ACLU's complaint below.)
♦ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has withdrawn the state’s participation in the Secure Communities program, overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under the program, state law enforcement agencies send the DHS fingerprints of everyone booked into a local or county jail. These fingerprints are then checked against federal databases to see whether that person is in the country illegally or is an illegal alien with a criminal record. If a match is found, Immigration and Customs Enforcement would determine whether to begin deportation proceedings. Cuomo is the second governor to pull out of the program. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declined to participate last month. Cuomo said that it was unclear whether the program could reach its goals of reducing crime. The New York Daily News quoted Cuomo as saying: “There are concerns about the implementation of the program as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities, and law enforcement in New York.”