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Database conceived by former smuggler

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Posted on Thu, Sep. 25, 2003

Terror database conceived by wealthy former smuggler
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The Matrix anti-terrorism database is the brainchild of a Florida millionaire who police say was a drug smuggler.

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Seisint Inc.'s founder, Hank Asher, showed Florida police that he could identify some of the hijackers with his technology.

He searched databases for foreigners with anonymous mailboxes, fake Social Security numbers and similar arrival dates in the United States, said Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's intelligence office.

In seeking terrorists, Matrix matches state files -- such as prison data, driver's licenses and criminal histories -- with Seisint's own files, including credit records, phone numbers and home addresses that date back a quarter century.

By checking boxes on a Web-based search page, Florida analysts have been able to find, say, photos and details of every individual who has ever been arrested in a sex crime and owns a green Oldsmobile Cutlass with "AB" in the license tag.

The database returns results in a few seconds, Ramer said.

Asher, who headed the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company until August, resigned from its board of directors after repeated revelations of past ties with cocaine smugglers.

An FDLE memo sent to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush this month said police investigators "were able to confirm he had been involved in smuggling during the early 1980s." The memo said Asher admitted piloting drug flights. Asher, 52, did not return calls seeking comment.

Thirteen states are taking part in Matrix: Florida, Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah. California and Texas have dropped out, citing privacy and expense concerns.

13 states create terror database { September 24 2003 }
Concerns about citizen privacy
Connecting the dots after 911
Database conceived by former smuggler
Database raises privacy concerns { September 24 2003 }
Florida contracts with drug smuggler { August 2 2003 }
Florida law enforcement hires drug smuggler { August 2 2003 }
Hank asher connected 2000 florida voting { December 10 2000 }
Matrix database measured terrorism quotient
Matrix system endanger privacy
New york wisconsin opt out of anti crime database
Police database called intrusive by rights group
Privacy advocates fear matrix { September 24 2003 }
State law enforcement contractor linked drugs { August 3 2003 }
States build anti terror database
Tennessee officials applied to matrix

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