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'HOMELAND SECURITY' TOWN HALL MEETINGS TO BE HELD
Posted 2 Dec 2003 07:30:18 UTC

"Homeland Security" is a phrase that's been bandied about quite a bit over the past couple of years. We've recently learned of a series of Town Hall Meetings to be held with a number of important players in the arena, including Tom Ridge, the Secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

The meetings are sponsored by the "Council for Excellence in Government," and are entitled "Homeland Security from the Citizens' Perspective." There is a meeting in Miami on Tuesday, December 9th, with meetings planned for San Diego, Houston, Lexington (Kentucky), and Seattle early next year, and in Rochester, NY, on a date not yet announced. All meetings are sponsored by large corporations which presumably hope to profit from the Department of Homeland Security's huge budget.

In contrast to meetings held by Attorney General John Ashcroft, these meetings are open to the public. If you wish to attend the Miami meeting, which will be at 1pm on the campus of Miami-Dade college, you must RSVP at the Council for Excellence's website. Confusingly, this link is nowhere to be found on the page listing the town hall meetings. Presumably, it will be possible to register for future meetings as their dates approach.

One meeting was already held in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 8th. Only a small portion of the meeting was dedicated to "Privacy and Security," despite the horrible abuses that the USA PATRIOT act makes possible. Secretary Ridge argued that the mere existence of a privacy office within his Department ought to allay concerns, despite the fact that that office is headed by Nuala O'Connor Kelly, formerly of the privacy-unfriendly Internet advertising firm DoubleClick.

If any 2600 readers are able to attend the Miami meeting or any future meetings, we'd encourage, as always, the asking of critical questions. We would also love it if you could let us know your experiences.

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