Democrats & Liberals Archives

Helpful Tool or Privacy Invasion?

From Richard Willing USA Today:

“DNA from tens of thousands of suspected illegal immigrants, captives in the war on terrorism and others who have been arrested but not convicted of federal crimes could be added to a national database of convicts’ DNA under a proposal the Senate is likely to vote on soon. “

"The measure, which has drawn fire from civil libertarians, has passed the U.S. House. It would represent a dramatic expansion of the nation's DNA database, which has about 2.6 million genetic profiles. So far, database efforts have focused mostly on collecting DNA from those convicted of serious crimes, so the profiles can be compared with DNA found in blood, semen and other biological evidence from crime scenes."
"Virginia, Texas and Louisiana allow authorities to take DNA from arrestees, but U.S. law blocks the inclusion of such profiles in the national database until a suspect has been indicted. If an indicted suspect is not convicted, his profile is supposed to be removed."
"U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., a sponsor of the bill, says collecting DNA from arrestees would help authorities catch rapists and killers who have arrest records but who go undetected by the DNA system because they have no serious convictions. Barry Steinhardt, who specializes in privacy law for the American Civil Liberties Union, says taking DNA from people who "haven't been found guilty of anything" is wrong. "We've got to ask ourselves whether this is a line we want to cross."

What do you think?

Posted by Andre M. Hernandez at October 4, 2005 1:13 PM
Comments
Comment #83516

“We’ve got to ask ourselves whether this is a line we want to cross.”

Great post Andre.
Illegal aliens and terrorists deserve whatever we want to do to them but the American people better wake up.
I think its too late for the country, too many Americans have the “I don’t care because I don’t have anything to hide” mentality right now.
The American people have no idea what this could lead to.

Posted by: kctim at October 4, 2005 1:52 PM
Comment #83520

The key here is “suspected illegal imigrants

In the first place once we suspect them as an illegal immigrant and prove it they should be taken immediately to the next available transport to the country of their choice.

Failing that possibility since the tree huggers and ACLU and GOD knows who else will get in the way, I am for getting their DNA, fingerprints,
footprints, taking their picture and mandating that they report to someone in immigration bi-weekly. A missed or unexcused appointment takes them to the next plane out.

Any illegal immigrant actually convicted of a crime should be on his/her way immediately out of the country.

Posted by: steve smith at October 4, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #83523

Being an “illegal” immigrant is a crime Steve.
Why wait until they commit another?
This is secondary to Andre’s post though. We may be seeing the beginnings of a DNA Database that could be used against the American people.

Posted by: kctim at October 4, 2005 2:12 PM
Comment #83531

We may be seeing the beginnings of a DNA Database that could be used against the American people.

In what way? As long as it is used in the same way we use fingerprint databases, I don’t really see a problem. We would just have to make sure there are controls.

Interesting topic, Andre.

Posted by: TheTraveler at October 4, 2005 2:23 PM
Comment #83534

“Illegal aliens and terrorists deserve whatever we want to do to them but the American people better wake up.”

As much as you may hate illegal immigrants I think you are doing a diservice to humanity by lumping them in with terrorists, kc.

To sum up the other comments so far: Its okay if you DNA profile THEM, as long as you don’t DNA profile US. So, lets DNA profile any hispanic or arab-looking persons because they are most likely to be illegal immigrants and/or terrorists, but don’t DNA profile us normal (white) folk.

This all loses sight of the original point of this post. Do we want the government to be able to collect and store your DNA profile if you are arrested for something you didn’t do? Yes or No.

Posted by: Terry at October 4, 2005 2:31 PM
Comment #83542

At last count, the figure being used is that 13 million illegal immigrants are in the US. If we have the means to determine how many there are, we certainly know where they are (not all) and there is a lot of sentiment for where they should go and, they are committing a crime by their mere existence here WHY ARE THEY STILL HERE?

I, as an American citizen have no p[roblem with the government having my DNA because it is far more likely to prove me innocent that it is to prove me guily. Also, think of the time and money to be saved apprehending and processing criminals.

Posted by: steve smith at October 4, 2005 3:02 PM
Comment #83543

Look, we know police have, since the beginning, planted evidence to arrest and convict innocent folks for a host of reasons from revenge to bumping their arrest stats and elevating their career. These bad apples will always exist.

DNA databases however, will eliminate any hope of an innocent person ever going free, if their DNA was planted, since such evidence is believed by most to be incontrovertible. That is how it can one day be used against Americans and their Constitutional guaranteed civil liberties.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 4, 2005 3:04 PM
Comment #83553

David,

People have been feed from prison due to DNA evidence because, as you said it is considered incontrovertible, what’s to stop the process from happening in revearse.
We all see our government becoming less transparent and more corrupt, why would we want them having the ultimate GO TO JAIL tool.
Think about the possibilities.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 4, 2005 4:29 PM
Comment #83555

Well… They have been saying for years that we should have “DNA and Fingerprinting” for our “citizens” from childhood, this would be the next step.

Which is alarming yet not surprising sadly.

It is a tradjedy that in a place people come for freedom, we are now implementing policies we have helped quell in other countries.

Anyone see a red wall?

Rogue writer

Posted by: jemanlove at October 4, 2005 4:49 PM
Comment #83569

Want to quell political dissent in the future? Give the government the power to obtain DNA samples. That is all that will be needed. The mere threat of conviction of murder or rape or child molestation by a citizen, congressperson, or lawyer via planted on file DNA evidence, would put such a chill on dissenters, not unlike that which the KGB placed on Russian peoples in the last century.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 4, 2005 5:50 PM
Comment #83581

“As much as you may hate illegal immigrants I think you are doing a diservice to humanity by lumping them in with terrorists, kc”

Yes, I really do not like illegal aliens, they are criminals but lumping them with terrorists is what you did.

“So, lets DNA profile any hispanic or arab-looking persons because they are most likely to be illegal immigrants and/or terrorists”

Looking like or most likely was not what was said. Illegals and terrorists were the words used. If I was being so general as you believe, I would be one of the ones subjected to this.

“but don’t DNA profile us normal (white) folk.”

You took the much expected racist route. I clearly said American people.

“This all loses sight of the original point of this post. Do we want the government to be able to collect and store your DNA profile if you are arrested for something you didn’t do?”

NO, because the reverse of that would be too easy.

Posted by: kctim at October 4, 2005 6:16 PM
Comment #83605

All I know is: The government will have to hold me down physically to obtain my DNA, or they will have to steal it. I consider it to be a frightening thought. Does anyone really want OUR government to have their DNA and be able to use it against them?

This could easily turn into genetic testing, unlawful imprisonment, and Heaven forbid, a worse “Big Brother is watching you” situation than we have now. What about the issue of hackers getting into computers and changing information? We already have enough ID theft, without making it easier.

Imo, the government already has too much information on each of us as individuals - our private health and mental records, our financial records,academic records, the FBI files that have been kept on people for years… even the posts we make here are under governmental watch (go to Google.com and type in your name and hit enter)
In what way?

The Traveler

As long as it is used in the same way we use fingerprint databases, I don’t really see a problem. We would just have to make sure there are controls.

Who would you suggest be in control? The government? Heaven forbid! I certainly don’t trust OUR government to use a DNA database in any manner that would be considered good. My faith in our government is simply not strong enough to believe that it would use a DNA database in a good way. I really believe that if it (regardless of of who, or what party) have control over a DNA base that it will ultimately lead to a to major a disaster.
I also believe the same thing about national finger databases. Although they have already shown how they can be manipulated. Watch any true crime show on Court or A&E and one can learn how to transfer fingerprints to another source.

I’d rather deal with immigrants than give the GOVERNMENT any more knowledge about me that it already has.

I do however think that illegal immigrants should be deported. Home is the most likely place to send them - as quickly as they are caught. The only exceptions I can think of might be if they are fugitives, who can show why (as in proof) they are afraid for their lives in their home countries. Then IF they can show a need to live in the US they can go through the process LEGALLY.

Unfortunately deportation may have to include the children born illegally on American soil. That however is a matter I don’t want to think about at this time.

I also believe that legal immigrants should be treated as Americans - i.e.. learn to speak English, attend academic classes so they can graduate from an US High School or pass the GED, LEARN how to DRIVE, etc., with-in a certain time limit. Those who don’t try to do these things should be deported as well, and their children as well.

I suppose I take this idea very personally, but the fears of a loss of more privacy scares the heck out of me.

Posted by: Linda Haenchen at October 4, 2005 7:58 PM
Comment #83612

David -

How does one go about planting DNA evidence? Wouldn’t you have to obtain some sort of bodily fluid or other cells and plant them at the scene of the crime? Once the DNA is extracted from the sample, it’s laid out in a chart and placed in a file. They don’t keep saliva or blood in any quantity in a file. It would require special storage in order to keep it viable. The cost would be prohibitive. So is someone going to leave a DNA profile on a sheet of paper at the scene of a crime?
If a bodily fluid were to be placed at the scene of the crime, having a DNA profile in the records wouldn’t change much from what can be done without one on file. A DNA profile can still be extracted from a suspect and compared to the evidence without it.

That being said, I’m uncomfortable about the privacy issues involved. I know that fingerprints are kept on file, and there does not seem to be a problem with that affecting civil liberties presently. But still, it seems invasive to me.

Posted by: Cole at October 4, 2005 8:43 PM
Comment #83623

If you have a corrupt, irresponsible, unaccountable government (which we may have now), then tracking biometrics may be a bad thing.
But, under a mostly honest, responsible government,
biometrics could be very useful.

As always, you can’t ignore what government does.
To do so invites abuses.

Posted by: d.a.n at October 4, 2005 9:37 PM
Comment #83624

This is an important topic, Andre — thanks for bringing it up for discussion.

Terry:
“This all loses sight of the original point of this post. Do we want the government to be able to collect and store your DNA profile if you are arrested for something you didn’t do? Yes or No.”

No! For all the reasons that David laid out. But I think it could go even further than the mere threat of conviction having the power to stifle disent, because the minute they start collecting an official database of DNA, the government immediately becomes The Authority Figure on whether or not any of our citizens have committed a crime.
Cole asked how they’d go about planting it, but I could see where it wouldn’t even matter if the Fed’s were out to get someone (for whatever reason), because they’d be in the position to say you definitely were, end of story, and off to jail you go.
As it stands now, independent labs do this work for law enforcement, but if it’s the US government that becomes the ultimate experts on DNA, every case would have the potential to be The United States vs. “Random American Citizen” in all our courts of law.
And that’s too scary-fascist style for words.

Posted by: Adrienne at October 4, 2005 9:43 PM
Comment #83637

Cole,

You wouldn’t have to plant DNA tissue at the scene, any hair or tissue of the right color will do.

Then get the stooge hair during booking and walk it down to your friend at the lab.

anyone’s hair etc will suffice… Just call your friend at the lab and substitute a copy of your DNA file for the on

Posted by: jo at October 4, 2005 10:38 PM
Comment #83643

Jo;

Well, that is my point. They can do that now. If they already have the guy in custody for any reason, they can obtain evidence from them and plant it at the scene. Then a DNA check will confirm it. If they have reason to believe that the hair came from the suspect, they can get the DNA sample from any number of things, as well as obtaining a court order in many circumstances.
I just don’t think it will create any new opportunities for evidence to be planted. DNA is used as confirmation of evidence already found at the scene. That evidence can be planted now (without a database), or with a new database, and the the confirmation can still take place.
For all of the dominoes to be in place for a DNA-evidence plant by using the database, it would be possible to successfully plant evidence without it. I don’t think the database would gain the “planters” anything.
I’ve tried to come up with scenarios where the database would be the critical factor, and can’t think of any situation where it couldn’t be done without the database, anyway.
But feel free to show me the fault in my argument.

Posted by: Cole at October 4, 2005 11:19 PM
Comment #83651

Cole,

Sorry, i am not really making much sense tonight. But i don’t even think a real tissue sample will be necessary to convict someone once the profile is in the database. Substituting the report file might do.. in a pinch. Granted, it is risky; but i think anyone considering planting evidence to begin with is already willing to take a lot more risks than the rest of us. In that position someone could hope no one looks hard at the evidence, just the findings… and perhaps down the road they can ‘lose’ the evidence itself.

Posted by: jo at October 5, 2005 12:00 AM
Comment #83654

Jo,

I see your point, and it’s well taken. However, I think that getting a new DNA test would be a simple matter for the accused, especially if DNA is part of the evidence used in a trial. If the evidence to match the DNA in the database were lost, would it not be grounds for a new trial? Pretty shaky ground for a conviction. It would take a conspiracy of several people to make it work.
That’s why most conspiracies don’t work. There are too many weak links. Although conspiracy theorists may disagree…
The future MAY hold some opportunities, however. For example, if it becomes possible to artifically and easily create, (or clone?), evidence based on a tiny DNA sample. Then there would be enough to leave at a crime scene.

Posted by: Cole at October 5, 2005 12:47 AM
Comment #83660

ahh, another possibility. Goodness, now that IS a scarey thought!

Posted by: jo at October 5, 2005 12:58 AM
Comment #83694

Cole, I guarantee the DNA info will be digitized. There’s no way the government is going to store millions of DNA samples. It’s to easy to ruin or contaminate them. So I don’t think cloning will be a danger for a couple centuries.

David, if the government wanted to make someone disappear, they would just do it. There’s no need to go through all the trouble and uncertainty of planting DNA evidence — which can be contaminated or spoiled. If the US government ever gets to that point, the trickery will be as unnecessary as it was in the USSR under Stalin.

Frankly, as long as there are strict privacy rules on the DNA database, I don’t have any more problem with this than with a national ID card.

If the government gets out of our contral, that’s a totally different problem. DNA could be a tool of repression — as could fingerprints and spies and brainwashing your kids to turn you in for badmouthing the government — but it’s only a tool. The real problem would be the repressive government, and I don’t think we’re even close to that.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 5, 2005 2:58 AM
Comment #83745

Cole,

What about using the sample to sell to the insurance industry or future employers to detirmine fitness for employment or coverage?

For all,

G.W. is pushing for use of military during epidemic threats. Not terrorism but medical epidemics.
smells like a police state.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 5, 2005 9:58 AM
Comment #83780

Where are all you anti death penalty folks who justified their position on the fact that DNA is now finding “guilty” people “innocent”.

Has your position beeen revised/compromised?

Posted by: steve smith at October 5, 2005 12:47 PM
Comment #83785

Steve,

This reinforces that position.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 5, 2005 1:31 PM
Comment #83799

I see some interesting points of view here but in the end the issue remains where do you draw the line? Once pandora’s box is open who is to stop that line from moving? This philosophy applies to many topics under debate today…
Many people feel that because they are innocent that they have nothing to fear and would be willing to give up thier privacy rights (DNA or otherwise) in the hopes or a better future. Looking through out world history when has an individual giving up personal freedoms ever benefited the individual long term? NEVER.

Posted by: kkg at October 5, 2005 2:26 PM
Comment #83841

AP:

I agree totally. The problem would be in the behavior of the people in power, not in the fact that the info exists. But it is their behavior that we must protect ourselves against.

Andre:

What about using the sample to sell to the insurance industry or future employers to detirmine fitness for employment or coverage?

That would be a problem, and is part of the privacy issue that I fear. If you note in my first post, even though I argue that I saw no danger of planting DNA evidence, I do see a danger in privacy issues.

Steve Smith:
No one has argued anything about the Death Penalty. It should be the right of every individual to use their own DNA evidence in their own case.

kkg:
Alas, that is also part of my privacy concern. You can never know what will occur in the future that will turn something that seems so innocuous at first, into a fearsome problem. We can never abandon our vigilance in keeping all of our freedoms intact, even if some feel that it will not concern them. We have to protect all individuals, even if not ourselves.
So in your statement, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head.

Posted by: Cole at October 5, 2005 6:13 PM
Comment #84253

Does anyone commenting on this blog have a strategy to protect this country. Or do all of you just complaine endlessly about what the right is doing. This one major reason why liberal and democrats will not be able to reqaine congress in 06, or the white house in 08. If that happens its good bye democratic part and that would be a bad thing. When that happens the blame will be with you and all who aggree with you on the far left. Something to think about.

Posted by: jason at October 7, 2005 2:37 PM
Comment #84254

Does anyone commenting on this blog have a strategy to protect this country. Or do all of you just complaine endlessly about what the right is doing. This is one major reason why liberal and democrats will not be able to regaine congress in 06, or the white house in 08. If that happens its good bye democratic part and that would be a bad thing. When that happens the blame will be with you and all who aggree with you on the far left. Something to think about.

Posted by: jason at October 7, 2005 2:39 PM
Comment #84318

Jason,

Did you read the post?

I’d like for you to point out where I blamed a particular party.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 7, 2005 5:29 PM
Comment #84403

1 example:
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., Key word (R-Ariz).

But my question was much broader in terms of liberal position of oppossing any and all proactive measures to combat terrorism with out providing a viable alternative to what Republicans have proposed. The fact that liberals seem all too quick to object to all proactive measures without providing an alternative is why John Kerry isn’t in the white house right now.

So, my question is what is your plan for combating the global treat of terrorism?

Posted by: Jason at October 7, 2005 10:53 PM
Comment #84412

Jason,

The Democrats are all for closing up the holes in our borders. This is one major area that can do a lot in controlling illegal immigration. Yet, the admin has failed miserably to even address this issue.
What good is it going to do to allow uncontrolled immigration into the country, and then try to get DNA on them when we can’t even find them?
The right’s mantra is continually that the democrats resist eveything and have no plan. Yet, when the dems come up with a plan, the repubs act as though it doesn’t exist. Just like Social Security. The right continually stated that the dems had no plan, when in reality, eleven different democratic plans had already been submitted to congress for review. (not trying to renew the debate on SS; just making a point).
So instead of pulling out that tired, old chant whenever a democrat voices disagreement with something, I wish that repubs would simply engage in the debate and provide their points for discussion.

Posted by: Cole at October 8, 2005 12:58 AM
Comment #84462

First of all the only effective means of controlling illegal border crossings is too put the national guard on the border to back up. The border patrol. And, democrats, and republicans will never do that.

Posted by: jason at October 8, 2005 2:06 PM
Comment #84627

…because a large number of National Guard units and their equipment are in Iraq. And according to Gen. McCaffery, the National Guard and Army Reserve will be rendered ineffective within the next couple years at the current operation levels.

But my question was much broader in terms of liberal position of oppossing any and all proactive measures to combat terrorism with out providing a viable alternative to what Republicans have proposed.

Democrats are proposing effective alternatives every week. Here’s a comprehensive Democratic alternative to the Republicans ineffective counter terror measures. In addition to training 2,000 more special forces troops, Democrats want to increase the size of the armed forces by 100,000 troops.

Republicans, of course, are obstructing these necessary measures. Funding them threatens the capitol gains, estate, and dividend tax cuts for the rich.

Posted by: American Pundit at October 10, 2005 9:40 AM
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