Open Season On DNA May Not Be Far Away
Atlanta Journal Constitution | October 19, 2005
By BOB BARR (Former U.S. attorney and congressman)
Want to keep your DNA out of the hands of the government? Think your DNA is too private to be forced to give to government bureaucrats to analyze, catalog, share, retain indefinitely and possibly abuse? Tough luck.
If Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) have their way, every person in this country who has the misfortune of being arrested for any federal offense, or merely "detained" by the federal government, will be forced to give a DNA sample to the government, to be used for whatever purpose it wants, whenever it wants.
Hard-liners might say "Hey, that's fine; if you've been picked up by the feds, you've surrendered your right to keep your DNA private." It's not quite that simple.
There are more than 4,000 federal offenses on the books, a number that is constantly growing. Those offenses include many misdemeanors, as well as many regulatory dictates that involve no harm to anyone. Also, and most important, don't forget that being arrested — much less merely detained — is not proof that you are guilty of anything.
Congressional proponents of the federal database scheme are unmoved by such "technicalities." For them, if a federal agent picks you up for any reason, even if you're innocent, Uncle Sam has a right to your DNA, by force if necessary.
While some advocates of forced DNA databasing argue it is no more intrusive than taking a fingerprint, DNA is far more than a mere reflection of a physical characteristic. Your DNA not only identifies you physically; it also could tell whoever possesses it a great deal about your biological makeup, health, propensity for certain diseases, aspects of your ancestry and more.
Aside from the obvious argument that if you arrest a person, photograph them and take their fingerprints, you already have information sufficient to identify them and do not really need all the additional information gleaned from a DNA sample, consider the vast universe of persons who would be subject to this intrusive requirement if the Kyl-Green legislation becomes law.
Persons detained at a political gathering — such as occurred last summer at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions — for nothing more than expressing their political views would find their DNA forever enshrined in government files. Similarly, citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights by purchasing firearms, but make a mistake in filling out one of the required federal forms, would be forced to submit their DNA information to a federal agent.
A landowner who dares exercise dominion over his own property, but runs afoul of the myriad federal wetlands, endangered species or Environmental Protection Agency regulations, would be forced into the DNA Hall of Shame. The hapless air traveler who somehow offends a Transportation Security Administration employee's sense of decorum, and is thereby subject to detention, would be roped into the DNA database.
Misplace or misstate a deduction on your tax return? You go directly to DNA jail. The list is as long as the humongous Code of Federal Regulations, the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Criminal Code combined.
If we were talking about a database that included DNA information on persons convicted of certain serious offenses, where it is important to retain such information for crime scene identification based on bodily fluids — something the government is already permitted to do — the host of privacy questions would not be at issue. But maintaining a forced DNA database of persons who may never be charged with or convicted of a felony represents an unnecessary and abusive invasion of privacy.
Even the mechanism the federal legislative proposal provides for remedying an improper collection of DNA is inadequate. In typical Big Government fashion, the Kyl-Green proposal makes it easier for the bureaucrats and harder on the individual. The aggrieved person has to "opt out" after his or her case is won or dismissed, rather than requiring the government to track the progress of its own case and affirmatively expunge the information when the person is exonerated or not charged.
This latest bad idea making the rounds in Congress is strikingly similar to another proposal passed last November by California voters. The only difference here is that the California initiative was an open measure on a public ballot.
The current congressional proposal, on the contrary, was slipped quietly into a larger, unrelated piece of legislation that most senators and House members were strongly predisposed to support — reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. At least California was honest and upfront with its proposal.
•Former U.S. attorney and congressman Bob Barr practices law in Atlanta.
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Coming Gene Wars | Got Spider Goat Milk? | Spider Goats
Mad Scientists! | Human Cows! | Transgenics and Transvestites
Making Genetic Monsters | Transgenic Cats | Transgenic Pigs
BIOCOLONIZATION | Playing God with Chimeras | Human Mice!
Outrage at "Frankenstein" Animal Experiments | The Thing!
Transgenic Pigs End Up as Chicken Feed
Genetic Engineering: Playing God? | The Coming Genetics Nightmare
The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (stem cell research, cloning, etc.)
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Transgenic Chickens | Transgenic Sheep
Molecular Trojan Horses | Kluwer Transgenic Research
The Stanford Transgenic Research Facility
'Trojan Gene' Could Wipe Out Fish!
Transgenic Research Reagents
Disturbing Possibilities - A Human Cow!
The Biotech Harvest | The Coming Food Shortage!
Controlling the World's Food - Seeds of Deception!
Chimeras, Cloning and Freak Human-Animal Hybrids (mutants)
A Spinach Pig | Vegetable (edible) Vaccinations | Designer Babies
This will be every transgenic cat's dream, glow in the dark mice. Don't think for one moment that fluorescent humans aren't around the corner, mark my words...you'll see it, along with spider humans and every other godless monstrosity of mad scientists. Man's good intentions are often a Pandora's box. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Every single transgenic animal of any species born so far has had genetic defects that scientists admit they cannot predict and that seem to adhere to no pattern. Transgenic animals are being born with lungs that don't inflate, for example. Others can't stand up. Most—98 percent—abort their fetuses. Researchers are driven by money, not ethics. They have no idea what will happen to cats if they remove the genes that cause sneezing in people. Those genes are there for a reason, and tinkering causes physiological and immune system problems that researchers admit they can neither anticipate nor control.
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so." -Genesis 1:24