The Bush administration has had its agencies tracking and restricting citizens’ travel, listening in on citizens’ phone conversations, and watching citizens surf the Internet without so much as a warrant. Now the Department of Justice is set to begin collecting the DNA of everybody the federal government arrests or detains, and keeping that DNA for a massive database, even when it turns out the person arrested or detained has done absolutely nothing wrong:
The Justice Department is completing rules to allow the collection of DNA from most people arrested or detained by federal authorities, a vast expansion of DNA gathering that will include hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, by far the largest group affected….
“Whereas fingerprints merely identify the person who left them,” Neufeld said, “DNA profiles have the potential to reveal our physical diseases and mental disorders. It becomes intrusive when the government begins to mine our most intimate matters.”…
“What this does is move the DNA collection to the arrest stage,” said Erik Ablin, a Justice Department spokesman. “The general approach,” he said, “is to bring the collection of DNA samples into alignment with current federal fingerprint collection practices.” He said the department was “moving forward aggressively” to issue proposed regulations.
The news report of this plan places it within the context of illegal immigration. But with peaceful and law-abiding activists already being detained at protests, it’s not hard to see where this will go. Detain, hold, sample, release… and Homeland Security has your DNA for its database. DNA that can be analyzed to predict what sort of diseases you are susceptible to, what sort of mental illnesses you are likely to contract, what your ancestry is likely to be, and who knows what else? As a former sociologist, I know that biology is not everything there is to human identity. But it’s a significant part, and the U.S. government now is claiming the power to collect and keep the most intimate DNA information on completely innocent individuals. To what end? We do not know.
When, when, when will this nation wake up and recognize a police state? When the government begins collecting stool samples?