Piece by piece, Gov. Rick Perry’s homeland security office is gathering massive amounts of information about Texas residents and merging it to create the most exhaustive centralized database in state history. Warehoused far from Texas on servers housed at a private company in Louisville, Kentucky, the Texas Data Exchange—TDEx to those in the loop—is designed to be an all-encompassing intelligence database. It is supposed to help catch criminals, ferret out terrorist cells, and allow disparate law enforcement agencies to share information.

More than $3.6 million has been spent on the project so far, and it already has tens of millions of records. At least 7,000 users are presently allowed access to this information, and tens of thousands more are anticipated.

What is most striking, and disturbing, about the database is that it is not being run by the state’s highest law enforcement agency—the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, control of TDEx, and the power to decide who can use it, resides in the governor’s office.

That gives Perry, his staff, future governors, and their staffs potential access to a trove of sensitive data on everything from ongoing criminal investigations to police incident reports and even traffic stops. In their zeal to assemble TDEx, Perry and his homeland security director, Steve McCraw, have plunged ahead with minimal oversight from law enforcement agencies, and even DPS is skittish about the direction the project has taken.

Terrific piece of research by Jake Bernstein. How many other states need the same kind of investigative reporting? How many other states would turn up the same level of government disdain for individual rights?

Thanks, Joe T.

  1. Pmitchell says:

    As you all know I am a conservative republican and I am the first to say Perry is an idiot and did not deserve to be reelected

    I also sell steel across the entire state and (for those who live in Texas ) look on the traffic lights for the small white cameras.Those are all over the state and there not for emergency vehicles ( the small black twin tube device on the traffic light pole is what sees the strobes on the emergency vehicles and changes the light) I see them even in tiny little towns with a crossroads, we are being tracked by vehicle or by plates(Texas is a mandatory front plate state) I don’t really mind it, but I don’t like to be lied to about it. I also don’t trust our screwed up state govt any further than I could throw them

  2. mark says:

    I would comment, but I have grown weary of these reports. Of course that is the plan. You will get tired of taliking about it, and just learn to accept it. And we will all be slaves. sigh.

  3. doug says:

    the overarching problem here is that it is directly under the authority of the governor’s office, making it inevitable that it will be used as a political tool, if not by Perry, then by someone else.

    Funny how the Justice Department and the Texas DPS are the ones standing up for privacy on this project. So much for the preference for independent contractors over full-time bureaucrats.

  4. JimR says:

    God is watching them all the time anyway, so they’re conditioned to be indifferent. What could be worse than God watching your every move?

  5. Jägermeister says:

    Warehoused far from Texas on servers housed at a private company in Louisville, Kentucky…

    Are they listed on the stock market? An investment would pay off big time when Google buys them…

  6. Jägermeister says:

    #4 – What could be worse than God watching your every move?

    Believing in this imaginary buddy.

  7. BubbaRay says:

    Happy Hour In Texas

    Gov. Rick Perry is driving down a back road in Texas . A sign in front of a restaurant reads:

    Happy Hour Special!! Lobster Tail and Beer

    “Lord almighty” he says to himself, “my three favorite things!!”

    Bet this one’s already in the database. Thanks, Eideard.

  8. George Washinton is rolling over in his grave!
    We are slowing loosing all our freedoms and everything this great Nation was founded on.

    I’m sure some 16 year old pimple faced hacker will find his way into the database…

  9. Improbus says:

    Who does this guy think he is? George W. Bush? ACLU where are you?

  10. TJGeezer says:

    1 – This is the first time it has come home to me you may be a genuine conservative, not one of those authoritarian right-wing revolutionary assholes who posture as conservatives these days. I take back any unworthy thoughts I might have had about you. It was all a terrible misunderstanding. We might disagree about how much government is needed to keep the system heathy, but at least we agree there are areas where the government has no business being at all.

  11. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    To those unfamiliar with the leadership of Texas:

    G W Bush was formerly Governor of Texas, where he and his crew developed much of the policy and tactics that he has since inflicted upon the entire country. That should tell you something about the nature of the office.

    Rick Perry? Imagine Dubya with a 15-point-higher IQ (which means just out of the ‘moron’ range, but still nowhere near 3 digits), 50% more chutzpah, and about one-fourth the integrity. For bonus points, try to picture in your mind the kind of mouth-breathers who actually voted for this cretin…

  12. Jägermeister says:

    #11 – Rick Perry? Imagine Dubya with a 15-point-higher IQ (which means just out of the ‘moron’ range, but still nowhere near 3 digits)

    😀 Thanks Lauren… I needed that laugh! 🙂

  13. hibiscusroto says:

    Perhaps Dell should design a case that looks like a ten gallon hat.

  14. Mr. Fusion says:

    #12, Jag,
    I hope you’re being sarcastic because that sure ain’t very funny.

  15. Dallas says:

    #11 .. You hit the nail on the head.

    If it wasn’t for those running this place, it would be a great state, indeed.


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