BB Watching Vegas / Almanacs vs. Guns

UPDATE: Newsweek reports that the names the FBI collected (see below) were searched against some master terror list. The full story can be read at
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3868332/.

My concerns about the FBI needing EVERY name, and doubts about the accuracy and comprehensiveness of federal terror watch lists remain. Better that they should come up with a system like the National Instant Background Check that gun dealers use.

ORIGINAL STORY
1) Big Brother is watching you go to Vegas

To those who truly believe that our civil liberties have not been threatened since 9/11, check out the article, "Casinos, Airlines ordered to give FBI information" at http://www.casinocitytimes.com/news/article.cfm?contentID=140114

For at least the past few weeks, Las Vegas hotel operators and airlines serving McCarran Int'l Airport have been required to turn over ALL guest and passenger names and personal information. According to hotel operators who asked not be identified, this information includes: names, addresses and personal id information, but not casino records or guest gambling information. An FBI spokesman in the article confirms the request, but said "at this point" they were only collecting names. The article estimates that as many as 300,000 visitors A DAY were having at least their names passed to the FBI.

All but one of the hotel operators turned over their information simply on request. The one operator demanded a "National Security Letter" before complying. Remember, a "National Security Letter" requires neither probable cause nor judicial review.

This appears to be a waste of time and tax dollars in addition to a significant invasion of privacy. I'm not an intel expert but this seems like an open-ended fishing expedition that is meaningless as intelligence -- particularly if they truly are only collecting names. Remember how many false positives the No-Fly-Lists keep turning up?

What's happening with these names once they reach the FBI? Are they being searched against a database of known terrorists? I could ALMOST live with that, except that I know the GAO has reported serious factual and technical problems with the ten plus lists floating around the federal gov't. They should fix their database first, then collect names. If they're looking for one or two specific people out of 300K daily, they should just pass on those names, preferably with bio info. Call them car theives if you don't want to panic people.

Based on the gov't's past care for personal info (dating back decades), I'm willing to believe that that all these names, plus identifying information is flowing into some database for some future, yet unkown purpose -- CAPPS II? TIA II? Who knows? I just don't think it's the feds business if I go to Vegas.

2) Almanacs vs. Guns - Does anyone else think it's sadly funny that you can trace the buyer of an almanac using Section 215 of USAPA, but the FBI is PROHIBITED from using the National Instant Background Check Database from determining if a terror suspect has bought a gun? Which would fill you with more fear at your local McDonalds -- someone browsing an Almanac at the next table, or someone standing in front of the exit with an automatic pistol?

I just find it just short of infuriating that with this growing National Security State, so much is being done to track ordinary people and so little is being done that would actually make us safer -- there are still tens of thousands of shipping containers that go uninspected each and every day.

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