Wednesday, November 09, 2005
On this day:

Alabama performing background checks on Katrina evacuees

Governor Riley puts public safety above political correctness.

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Bob Riley's administration has been running criminal background checks on Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in temporary housing in Alabama's 13 state parks, a move opposed by a federal Homeland Security official.

About 1,268 evacuees who fled Katrina in late August were still living in the park system this week.

"The governor made a decision that if evacuees were going to move into locations owned by the people of Alabama, then we had a right to know who the heck was going into our parks," Jim Walker, director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, told the Mobile Register for a story Wednesday...

A federal official, Michael Waters, protective security adviser in the Birmingham district of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had opposed the background checks.

"I recommended that we not attempt to do this at all," he wrote in a Sept. 7 e-mail obtained by the Register.

No background checks were required for Hurricane Ivan evacuees from Baldwin County, Waters said.

He described the background checks as "a potentially explosive issue given the existing race/class issues that have already been raised."