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Arthur Andersen involved in "Virtual Border"By Judi McLeod
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Toronto--Big Brother is watching you and his name is Arthur Andersen.
Accenture, the company that won a $10-billion contract from the Homeland Security Department to create a "virtual border", was formed from a group of partnerships and corporations coordinated through a Switzerland-based company called Anderson Consulting--which had split from the Chicago-based Arthur Andersen.
Investors lost some $60-billion in the spectacular collapse of Enron, whose books had been audited by Andersen. In essence some of the same Andersen officials caught up in the document shredding scandal are now working on the largest contract for IT security on citizen data in American history.
America's recently implemented "virtual border" is a series of databases tracking who enters and exits the country, while the real border is left wide open.
The winner of the contract was the Smart Border Alliance, which succeeded over Computer Sciences and Lockheed Martin. The Alliance is led by Accenture. Its members are AT&T, Dell, Raytheon and The Titan Company.
Accenture is a publicly traded company with more than $11.82-billion net revenues reported in 2003, according to the company's website.
Accenture has the added advantage of being a Bermuda company. Convenient for taxation purposes for a company getting $10-billion from the taxpayers of the USA.
The contract will enable construction of an electronic monitoring system for the USA's 400 border crossing stations.
Orwellian in nature, the US-VISIT system specifies that all travelers entering or leaving the country be identified by biometric recognition procedures. The system has been tested since the beginning of the year at 115 airports and 14 seaports on those persons requiring visas in the USA. From September 30, the US-VISIT System will also be required for citizens from 27 countries currently allowed to visit the U.S.A. for up to 90 days without visas.
The contract period is five years with an option for an additional five years. During the first stage of the project, lasting until the end of the year, the Alliance will equip 50 crossings on the borders to Mexico and Canada for photographing visitors and taking their fingerprints. Within the next five years, techniques such as iris scans and facial geometry recognition will be introduced at all crossings.
Although the award to the Alliance roused critics on invasion of citizen privacy, no mention has been made about Arthur Andersen involvement in Alliance.
Data protection advocates say that this is the first time the U.S. government has given such large amounts of citizen data to a private company.
It is only a question of time when we will hear about such data being misused says the citizen advocacy group, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
While the traveling industry is reeling to the shock of a $10-billion virtual border, the Background Buzz reports that "Kroll has been hired for border protection", and that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has "engaged" Kroll to do background investigations.
Kroll is self-described as "private CIA".
Starring in the recent Operation Jackal, the company was raided for spying on the President of Brazil with nearly one hundred Brazilian cops raiding its Brazilian offices and some of the companies associated with them.
Kroll is also described as the "largest and most flamboyant" of the risk management companies.
Involved in alleged illegal espionage in South America, the company will train border patrol personnel in the U.S.
Intrigue in the virtual border industry is the stuff of spy novels, but there's yet another twist.
Contemporary border patrol arrests a "baffling" number of Brazilian illegals in Texas (www.radioequalizer.blogspot.com/2005/04/huge-wave-crossing-border-are-from.html) (the from should be followed by Brazil). And the border Patrol that arrests them should be vetted for security purposes by Kroll that engages in illegal spying in Brazil?
Small wonder that "chances of the US-VISIT system working as advertised, many experts say, is hovering somewhere in the zero range." (www.money.cnn.com).
Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]
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