Remember Perceptics, the Border Patrol contractor whose facial recognition database was hacked, along with hundreds of gigs' worth of internal files?
In that trove of files were emails that reveal that Perceptics's lobbyist was operating as a kind of unpaid, uncredited speech-writer for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann [R-TN], a border-control hardliner who has devoted substantial energy to promoting the use of companies like Perceptics to defend America against a nonexistent "border emergency."
Fleishmann's advocacy has created a tax-funded bonanza for beltway bandits like Perceptics, who are much better at making old white people afraid of Central American people than then are at making secure intranets.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann often strikes a Trumpian tone on border security, stoking fears during television appearances and on social media about a caravan of Central American migrants, and repeating the president’s pledge to build a wall to prevent unauthorized immigration.
In April 2018, during an appropriations committee hearing, the Tennessee Republican took a more subdued and technical approach to immigration issues when quizzing then-Customs and Border Protection chief Kevin McAleenan. Fleischmann, looking down to read from a paper in front of him, wanted to know if McAleenan was on schedule to implement an upgrade of license plate reader technology at the border, as mandated by a previous appropriations bill.
McAleenan thanked the committee for its support and pledged continued work to upgrade LPR technology along the border.
A few days after the exchange, a lobbyist representing Perceptics, a tech company that sold state-of-the-art LPR cameras and technology to the government, emailed her team to confirm that Fleischmann had “asked about CBP’s plan to modernize its LPRs as we asked his office to do,” along with a link to a video clip of the hearing.
Hacked Emails Show GOP Demands on Border Security Were Crafted by Industry Lobbyists [Lee Fang/The Intercept]