"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
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
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
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.