After 9/11, we opened up “data sharing” between agencies. Now certain politicians are shutting that down.

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MANCHESTER, CT- In a recent interview on Law Enforcement Today, Stephen Komorek joined Lt. Ryan Shea on set. Komorek is the US Operations Director for Conflict International. The topic of their conversation was data sharing in law enforcement. 

As a segue into that, host Kyle Reyes referenced the push in a certain state to deny ICE agents access to DMV records. Politicians in New York are requiring local and state law enforcement agencies to sign an agreement saying that they will not share that data with federal agents or they will lose their access to it as well. 

Keep in mind that this is information voluntarily shared with ICE by Canada, but not the State of New York. More on this political maneuver to handcuff ICE from doing their jobs later.  

Komorek recently sat on a panel of politicians, law enforcement and private sector. He was representing the international community. The topic was information and data sharing in regards to federally elected politicians using private security.  

When it comes to the individuals being hired, everyone involved in the process needs to have access to the information surrounding these potential security team members. Things like what are their backgrounds, training and skill sets. And when it came down to it, the panel got on the same page, which, as Komorek alluded, doesn’t happen very often. 

He said:

“I have come to find that when the cause is right, and you are in the search for truth, that is when information sharing…everyone can get on board with that.”

Post 9/11, many of the investigations being conducted were through cooperation of cross-agency conversations and data sharing. If a local agency had information on a subject being investigated by a state or federal agency, that intelligence was passed along, making for a more comprehensive and thorough investigation. 

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Komorek stated:

“When you look at the history of it, going back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, look at the animosity between the Bureau (FBI) and The Agency, the CIA. If you had applied to both agencies, the FBI would tell you to retract your application or we won’t take you. They didn’t want to share information.”  

So, what happened to change that? 9/11 made it glaringly obvious that there was a communication issue between agencies at multiple levels. 

What was that communication issue? There wasn’t any communication. That was the problem. 

In 2006, a memorandum came out creating an avenue for information sharing from law enforcement to the intelligence community and vice versa. As Komorek says, we have come along in the past 14 years. 

What we have seen through the information sharing is that law enforcement agencies can more effectively do their jobs, which ultimately, is protecting their communities and the people who live in them. 

So, is it problematic when politicians get involved and remove the data sharing process an mandate that local and state agencies are not permitted to cooperate with federal agencies? Not only is it problematic, it is counter-intuitive and completely contradictory to what the law enforcement communities have been trying to create for the past 14 years. 

Komorek said:

“I can speak on what I know, and for us at Conflict International, we are always in the search for truth. No matter what the type of investigation it is, getting it in, we are looking for truth. What actually happened, what can we actually prove?

Just the facts. Just the truth of it.” 

He also detailed a Memorandum of Understanding between World Association of Detectives and the International Police Association (IPA). Conflict can now assist law enforcement agencies here at home and abroad by bridging gaps and filling holes by providing that information share between law enforcement and the private sector. 

From their website, here is a little more information about who and what Conflict International is: 

“Conflict International, is an established intelligence, investigation and surveillance agency with our International headquarters located in London and our US headquarters in New York

When you have suspicions that something isn’t quite right, our experts can help you get to the truth.

Conflict International is a fully licensed private investigation agency. We have an extensive, worldwide network of contacts and sources from law enforcement, the intelligence community, the military, private, public, and the corporate sector.

These sources enable us to obtain customized, reliable, hard-to-get intelligence and provide investigative services with the highest level of quality and depth of analysis.

Our US based offices specialize in government, corporate and private investigations and can assist with asset tracing, due diligence investigations, intellectual property protection, background checks and witness interviews.

Our specialist technical team can advise on cyber security, computer forensics and TSCM (Electronic countermeasures and bug sweeps).

We handle complex criminal investigations including fraud, bribery, corruption and theft. We also handle special investigations such as organized crime, counterintelligence, counter-terrorism, homicide, kidnap and ransom and human trafficking cases.

We also offer support and intelligence investigations for a number of corporate and government clients.

Conflict International is able to provide assistance for private clients which includes surveillance, missing person cases, witness location and obtaining evidence for matrimonial and custody dispute. We offer services that can assist when incidents overseas unexpectedly arise.

As the world becomes smaller through global travel and access to the internet, many investigations now have an international element that crosses borders. This is where Conflict USA gives you the edge with our ability to tap into a network of experienced investigators operating in most jurisdictions around the world.

Our skilled team can create a plan across our range of services enabling you to get to the heart of the matter.”

So, if federal and international agencies are in agreement that they need to share and will share information vital to investigatory success, and a group like Conflict International is ready, willing and trained to provide that capability, how is it that the state of New York is throwing such a monkey wrench into things?

We reported a couple of weeks ago about the issue with New York not sharing information with federal officials from the state’s driver database.

While it appeared at the time that New York was perhaps was having a change of heart, that does not seem to be the case.

The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that the Empire State is putting lives at risk by shutting out federal immigration authorities from the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMB) databases. He also stressed the fact that New York actually grants that information to a foreign country—Canada.

Acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matt Albence, told Fox news in an interview Friday, “Information is the lifeblood of law enforcement.”

He said:

“If we learned anything from 9/11 it’s that information needs to be shared quickly and fully, and what this has done is to roll back the clock. This is a pre-9/11 mentality in a post-9/11 world and it’s dangerous.”

The so-called “Green Light Law,” is primarily designed to grant drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants, and went into effect in New York in January. It is one of a number of laws nationwide that states have passed to “integrate” illegal immigrants into society, and also to prevent them from deportation.

However, in the case of New York, it also prevents the state DMV from sharing data with immigration authorities such as ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This particular portion of the law has drawn the ire not only of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but also of police groups within the state, who believe it blocks transparency between agencies and will make officers less safe.

In fact, New York sheriffs said that they had been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements in which they had to agree not to share information with federal agencies, a move which the deemed “offensive.”

Worse yet, the law requires that licensees be told within days if an inquiry is made on their data by immigration enforcement agencies, which law enforcement authorities believe could alert suspects that they are subject of an investigation.

While ICE deals primarily with immigration, they also investigate a number of other crimes, including human trafficking, drug trafficking and narcotics cases. The inability to obtain information from other law enforcement partners can impact such investigations.

Albence also noted in his interview with Fox that New York shares DMV data with Canadian law enforcement agencies, Including border control authorities, but not federal law enforcement agencies in the United States, such as ICE and CBP.

Albence said:

“Drivers’ licenses, car registrations, all that is part of the same database and they’re frozen out under the Green Light Law. All of those are critical and what is unbelievable is that the state of New York continues to give that information to Canadian law enforcement, but they won’t share with their own law enforcement in this country.

“The free flow of information is critical because there’s a lot of cross-border crime, so it’s understandable and we do this across the country where states share with foreign law enforcement partners. What’s unique about this, and incredible that they do this, is that they continue to share that information with those foreign law enforcement partners, while at the same time freezing out our domestic law enforcement partners.”

In response to the New York law, the Trump administration suspended Global Entry and similar Trusted Traveler Programs for New York residents, citing security concerns.

This is due to the fact that under the Green Light Law, New York relies on unverified documents in order for illegal immigrants to obtain their licenses, which are then used as a basis to receive Global Entry or TTP authorization.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has sued DHS, saying that it was “political retribution” from the administration. Of course House Democrats, always at the ready to throw down with illegal immigrants wrote to DHS “demanding” documents relating to the decision, while also slamming it as a “senseless, retaliatory move.”

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had previously said he was ready to make a deal to have Global Entry and TTP restored, however stopped short of agreeing to provide Social Security numbers to Homeland Security.

“The Social Security numbers are the indicator of documented or undocumented,” Cuomo said in a radio interview. “I will never give them the Social Security numbers in the DMV database. Over my dead body will I do that.”

It appears Cuomo is getting bent out of shape for nothing. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said the proposed deal with New York was promising, while Albence said he was open to it, since ICE and other agencies do not need Social Security numbers and are just looking for New York to share the data such as registrations and drivers’ licenses.

“If the governor wants to actually make good on that proposal, we’re ready to listen and sit down, but he made the comments in a radio interview and I’ve not heard anything since,” he said.

Meantime, Democrats in New York and Cuomo are placing officers’ lives in danger in the state, due to the inability to obtain critical information. Sometimes, the ability to run plates and obtain information can help agents and officers analyze a potentially dangerous situation.

Albence cited the case of an undercover agent watching a potential drug deal and wanting to run the plates of cars that are on scene. If those plates are New York plates, they won’t have that information.

“CBP and ICE are the two entities charged by the federal government to conduct those investigations, and we are no longer able to do so in nearly as effective a fashion as a result of this Green Light law. It makes us less effective and it puts our agents and officers in greater harm’s way,” he said.

Albence was brutally honest about Cuomo’s motivation in signing the law, as well as New York’s Democratic legislators in passing it.

“Basically, he said it was more important…that illegal aliens have drivers’ licenses than it is for his state officers to actually do their jobs and go home safely at the end of the night.”

So far, this has not been a result of Cuomo’s folly (he’s had a lot of them lately). Hopefully, no officers or agents pay with their lives for this short-sighted law.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Below, we explain why the Green Light Law is causing so many problems for law enforcement in New York.

State governments continue to dumb down the process to obtain driver’s licenses. Once again, New York is jumping on the bandwagon started by other states that lowers the amount of documentation required to secure a driver’s license in that state.

Last June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act,” otherwise known as the “Green-Light Law.”

The law was clearly designed to provide a way to pave the way for select New York residents, primarily illegal aliens, to obtain valid N.Y. driver’s licenses. The way the law is written will serve to shield illegal aliens from being detected, and also presents some public safety dangers, as well as facilitate identity theft.

Unlike in the past where documentation used to obtain driver’s licenses had to be verifiable by a U.S. entity, the new law allows the use of documentation issued by a variety of foreign government entities.

The new law also prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from accessing New York Department of Motor Vehicles records and information. This prohibition will, in essence, disrupt the ability of CBP inspections at Ports of Entry, and also will hinder ICE and Border Patrol in conducting their daily operations.

The Green Light law specifically undermines U.S. security as follows in numerous ways. First of all, it gives illegal aliens or possibly someone with terrorist intentions a way to obtain legitimate, state-issued documents for identification.

Second, it uses information provided by foreign governments as a means of issuing New York driver’s licenses with no way to verify the information.

Third, it cuts off cooperation between the state DMV and federal agencies, who require that information for national security reasons.

Utilization of identification in the United States has become an important part of everyday life, especially in a post-9/11 world. Today, identification is required in order to perform a lot of everyday tasks.

Identification must be shown in order to accept a job, purchase a firearm, open bank accounts, enter secured areas of airports or enter the country, buy alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets, register at a hotel, and any number of other seemingly mundane tasks. Failure to have valid identification in many of these cases makes completing these tasks difficult, if not impossible.

Documentation requirements in the private sector are designed to detect and deter fraud, while those in the public sector are for public safety, national security, to prevent terrorism and also to prevent fraud.

Starting in January, New York started issuing “non-commercial driver’s license or learner’s permit which does not meet federal standards for identification.” The new licenses are acceptable as identification, however, are not able to be used for “federal purposes.” Restricted activities include boarding an aircraft, entering certain government buildings, military installations, and nuclear facilities.

Document integrity is an important component of the ability to have confidence that the individual presenting the document is in fact, that person. The information underlying that documentation is vital.

The veracity of the documentation and therefore its integrity needs two key components; assurance that the identity information was authenticated prior to issuance, and trust in the entity that issued the documentation. The Green-Light licenses fall short on both counts.

The new law in New York no longer requires that the applicant provide a valid Social Security number. All that is now required is that the applicant file an affidavit stating they do not have a Social Security number. Currently, verification of an applicant’s SS number is the primary way used to substantiate an applicant’s identity.

Using the Social Security Administration, officials can verify the validity of the number and the biographical data associated with that number. Short of that verification, the security of the licenses is compromised.

Secondly, the law allows for the use of foreign passports, foreign driver’s licenses, and consular identification documents issued by the applicant’s country of citizenship to be used to establish identity.

Clearly, foreign documentation does not fall under the control or jurisdiction of any U.S. entity. The state is relying on the accuracy of these documents. Further, there is no way for state officials to evaluate the integrity of the issuing countries’ application process or how they go about verifying the identity of their own citizens.

The Green Light law allows the following additional documents as “proof” of identity. Valid, unexpired foreign passport issued by the applicant’s country of citizenship (also serves as proof of age), a valid, unexpired consular identification document issued by a consulate from the applicant’s country of citizenship, or a valid foreign driver’s license that includes a photo image of the applicant, which is unexpired or expired for less than twenty-four months of its date of expiration, as primary forms of such proof.

The Green Light law does not specify which nations documents it will accept, so it appears that all foreign nations’ documents will be allowed.

The United States currently has diplomatic with approximately 180 nations, with each nation issuing passports and some more than one. These countries also have the ability to issue consular identification cards, and of course all have driver’s licenses. Minimally, that means that there are over 540 documents that the New York DMV will accept.

Think about this for a minute. Most countries allow individual states or political subdivisions within their countries to issue driver’s licenses, just as we do in the United States. Current estimates indicate that when all is said and done, New York will accept over 600 variations of documents in order to establish identity and get a driver’s license or identification card in New York.

The new law is so fraught with issues we literally cannot go into all of them in one writing. One scenario we will show as an example is that of consular ID cards. Under the new law, a CID can be used to obtain a New York driver’s license. Where a bank or financial institution might balk at cashing a check when presented with only a CID, the same bank might accept the check when presented with a New York driver’s license mandated under the Green Light law.

In addition, many consular ID’s are issued in languages other than English. Many countries use alphabets that are different from the Latin alphabet used in English. There is no way for the DMV to query another nation’s record system or databases to authenticate an identity document.

Here are two scenarios, one minor and one that shows how bad this could be. These scenarios were formulated by the Center for Immigration Studies of what could go wrong:

Scenario One- Abel Bravo-Cortez is a Mexican national and lawful permanent resident of the United States, who resides in Queens, N.Y. Abel had a valid NY license under the name Abel B. Cortez, but it was suspended due to multiple, serious traffic violations.

Abel obtains a valid Mexican consular ID by showing his Mexican birth certificate. He insists that his consular ID be issued in his full name, Abel Bravo-Cortez. Abel then applies for a Green-Light license with the slight name variation and uses a relative’s address in Albany.

He provides an affidavit that he does not have a Social Security number. Abel regains a license and is back on the road.

Scenario Two- An unnamed man with an unknown date of birth and of an unknown nationality is determined to obtain a false identity. He works with a document counterfeiter.

The counterfeiter manufactures a Mexican consular ID for $400. The man assumes the name Marcos Gonzalez-Morales. Even though the document is counterfeit and its quality mediocre, the clerk at the DMV feels compelled to issue a Green-Light license based on it.

The clerk doesn’t have the skills or the training to declare it fraudulent, nor the ability to check its authenticity through a database or liaison with the Mexican government. “Marcos” uses his new identity to establish credit and open a bank account. He helps launder drug proceeds and rents vehicles to transport narcotics.

In another scenario, the new “Marcos” rents vehicles and a safe house for a cell of terrorists.”

CIS identifies some interesting consequences of the new law.

  • ICE and CBP officers are considered “peace officers” under NY law. One of the so-called “tools of the trade” for peace officers is DMV information, which they will not have access to.
  • Canada, a foreign nation freely shares its DMV information with CBP, and ICE. New York will not
  • New York is currently advising its legal residents to upgrade their NY driver’s licenses to be compliant with the Real ID Act, at extra cost, while at the same time New York is offering illegal aliens an opportunity to obtain valid ID with no safeguards
  • US magistrate judges have the authority to issue criminal arrest warrants and search warrants, however New York will exclude these officials from issuing judicial orders for DMV records.
  • The NY State Liquor Authority lists NY driver’s licenses as an acceptable document to buy alcohol, however the consular ID card is listed as unacceptable. So, New York doesn’t recognize CID’s as valid for the purchase of alcohol but valid for obtaining a driver’s license?
  • In 2015, the USBP was instrumental in helping capture two escaped murderers from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility. Four years later, New York won’t share information with CBP that could save agents’ lives.

Last month Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced that the agency was terminating residents of New York from enrollment and re-enrollment in its Trusted Traveler Programs. The reasons given were specifically the reasons outlined above.

The restrictions Wolf announced apply to Global Entry, NEXUS, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program, and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program. These programs currently provide expedited and preferential entry procedures to travelers who meet certain requirements.

TTPs require trust in the underlying identification program that agencies provide to DHS in administering these programs. Clearly DHS no longer trusts the New York driver’s license as a valid means of identification in securing special clearance under these programs.

In response to the move by Homeland Security, CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan said:

“New York’s law is the most egregious in the nation, and it creates unacceptable security and safety risks to everyone, for the sole purpose of protecting those who are living here illegally.

The Department cannot stand by and watch a state obstruct federal authority and create problems for everyone. It will be interesting to see if frequent travelers from New York are willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of illegal aliens.

This is not necessarily the last word from DHS, so other states that are considering this should take note.”

 

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