With the first round of controversy, discussion and clear public opposition to the political profiling tactics exposed in the now-infamous "Strategic Memo" produced by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) behind us, the Missouri Libertarian Party asks the logical, yet simple question: what's next?
To recap some of the progress made in addressing the problems related to the law enforcement training document:Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director John Britt has apologized for the report's reference to specific Presidential candidates, including Libertarian Bob Barr and Republican Ron Paul, and for the references to specific political organizations, including the Libertarian Party and the Campaign for Liberty.
The Missouri Highway Patrol and DPS have announced that the report has been shut down, meaning that it will no longer be distributed to law enforcement personnel in the state.
Nearly two weeks after the issue arose, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder became involved and called for Director Britt to be placed on administrative leave while a full investigation into the compilation and distribution of the memo is conducted.
Unfortunately, there have yet to be any formal steps taken to address the problem on a permanent basis. Missouri Libertarian Party spokesman Mike Ferguson released the following statement as the controversy now heads into its third week:
"While we appreciate the steps that have been taken so far and the promises that have been made when it comes to ending political profiling and respecting Missourians' rights, the lack of follow through on this issue is disturbing.
"Lt. Governor Kinder called for a 'full investigation' and we support that. Where is the investigation? The public demands it, the Lt. Governor has called for it and several state legislators agree it should take place. Who is going to lead it and what will it look for? We cannot stop making progress on this issue now.
"Hopefully, the MIAC report that profiled everyone from third-party political supporters to pro-life voters to those opposed to illegal immigration as potential violent militia members will be addressed as the important issue it is and not used for political campaign leverage.
"Missourians want the problem addressed. Fix the MIAC reporting process now; you can campaign on it later."
After discussing the issue with key members of the legislature today, the Missouri Libertarian Party has learned that no effort has been made to begin the formal investigation process. One state Senator's staff member stated that he does not expect an investigation to actually take place.
The Missouri Libertarian Party supports the call for an investigation into the MIAC report in question. The party also requests that the following goals be included in the investigation being called for by both the Lt. Governor and several state legislators who have worked diligently on this issue:
Determine which law enforcement officers received the problematic strategic memo/training document before it was exposed to the public.
Identify who wrote the report and what process, if any, was used that resulted in the inaccurate information which was eventually included in the document.
Explain how the report escaped oversight and was allowed to be distributed to law enforcement personnel as a training document.
Once an investigation determines what went wrong, the following common-sense goals should be pursued to ensure that Missourians never have to worry about being profiled for expressing political opinions or for being involved in our political process:
Proactively communicating to law enforcement officers who may have already received the now-defunct memo about its inaccuracies.
Holding specific executives in the Missouri Department of Public Safety, the Missouri Highway Patrol and other MIAC agencies legally accountable for the contents of all reports and other documents, whether public or confidential.
Establishing a formal, written process that commits all MIAC "fusion center" agencies to ensure future intelligence reports/memos are reviewed by - and obtain signed approval of - at least one of the aforementioned executives who are responsible for the content.
Establishing clear, written guidelines that prohibit political profiling.
Ensuring inclusion of the US Department of Homeland Security's Civil Liberties Impact Assessment Template (*) is part of the approval process for future documents/memos and reports.
Reinforcing legislative oversight of law enforcement operations, including intelligence gathering and distribution procedures.
Ferguson continued: "As we have stated throughout this entire controversy, we share the goal of keeping our state troopers safe. There is no need to stifle political activity in order to protect law enforcement."
For informational purposes:
The Chair of the Public Safety Committee in the House is Rep. Mark Bruns (phone: 573.751.0665).
The Chair of the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence in the Senate is Sen. Matt Bartle (phone: 573.751.1464).