Oversight

• House Committee on Homeland Security (Oct. 30): Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff regarding a number of concerns with the department’s Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, known informally as DHS-TRIP.

“While we think DHS-TRIP is a step in the right direction, we are concerned that the current structure results in delayed adjudications as well as duplicative efforts,” Thompson wrote. “Redress is a vital function of the terrorist screening process … I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation as to why the Federal Government can maintain a terrorist watch list … but cannot have a similarly consolidated ‘cleared’ list.”

• House Committee on the Judiciary (Oct. 30): Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) sent a letter to acting Attorney General Peter Keisler and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting more information about the immunity deal for Blackwater USA guards involved in the September shooting deaths of 17 civilians in Iraq.

“The seriousness of the shooting incident — and its effect on the U.S. military’s reputation in Iraq — necessitates a thorough investigation and prosecution of the appropriate Blackwater personnel,” the letter stated. “It is our understanding that as a result of any immunity given to the guards, prosecutors will have to prove that any evidence they use in bringing criminal charges against the guards was uncovered independently of the guards’ initial statements. This would apparently make the prosecution more difficult.”

• Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (Oct. 30): Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote to Chertoff seeking clarification from the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services on the case of a Mexican citizen with a highly contagious, multi-drug resistant form of tuberculosis who repeatedly crossed the southern border into the U.S.

“This incident highlights vulnerabilities we believe still exist within our nation’s border screening systems,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are troubled by the slow release of information to our Committee from the Department … some of which has proven to be contradicted by other government sources.”