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Mahoganyanais
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 238
Registered: 01-2005

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Posted on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 05:05 pm:   

Racial Data Sought for Bush Event

By Dana Milbank

The Secret Service has requested racial information on journalists
and guests scheduled to attend a reception tomorrow night with President
Bush.

White House reporters said they were offended that after furnishing
the customary information -- name, date of birth and Social Security
number -- they were also asked for the race of each person expected to
attend the small reception scheduled before the White House Correspondents'
Association's annual dinner.

The Secret Service said that it has been routine for many years to
request such information of people who will be near the president, and
that the information allows for quicker and more accurate searches of
criminal databases. The policy has not been applied universally, however;
such information is not requested of the people who greet the president
and first lady at White House Christmas parties, for example, and is
not always asked of people who have appointments in the White House
complex.

After officers of the White House Correspondents' Association provided
the Secret Service with names, dates of birth and Social Security
numbers of those who would attend the VIP reception, an agent called back to
ask for racial identities. "It's offensive on the face of it," said
Edwin Chen, a Los Angeles Times White House reporter who is secretary of
the association and who provided the information. "Why do they need to
have race?"

Knight Ridder reporter Ron Hutcheson, the association's president,
said. "I just don't understand the need for it. There may be one, but I
don't know what it is."

A spokesman for the Secret Service, Lorie Lewis, said it is routine
for the agency to request all five main "identifiers" used in the FBI's
National Crime Information Center database: name, birth date, Social
Security number, sex and race. If all five were not requested before, "it
may have been a mistake or an omission," she said.

Lewis said the request has nothing to do with racial profiling. "The
Secret Service does not and will not tolerate racial or cultural bias,"
she said. "The standard background checks are not designed to profile
individuals involved with the event. Rather, it provides for a more
thorough and timely search of the national law enforcement databases."

A White House official from the Clinton administration said race was
not a field in the form it used to clear visitors into the executive
mansion. A Bush White House spokesman referred calls to the Secret
Service.

The agency has become more rigorous in all aspects of security since
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. White House correspondents are not always
subject to the same security measures as the public because agents know
the journalists.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the Secret Service is more frequently
asking for racial information from journalists. The Arizona Daily Star
complained last year after a Bush-Cheney campaign official, on Secret
Service instruction, called to ask for a photographer's race before she was
allowed to photograph Vice President Cheney.

Also last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that journalists
covering a presidential debate there were asked to disclose their race
on a media credential application. In October, the Rocky Mountain News
reported that journalists covering a Bush appearance in Colorado were
asked to provide race and gender. And last month, the Orange County
Register reported that Cheney's staff requested race and gender information
before the vice president would meet with the newspaper's editorial
board.

Officials from the White House Correspondents' Association had
conflicting recollections about whether the racial information had been
requested for past receptions.


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