Sunday Commentary: Court Decision on DNA Opens the Door Much as FISA Did 35 Years Ago

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dna-300

This week, two seemingly unrelated stories have continued on a national level.  One is a controversial 5-4 decision by the US Supreme Court, and the other is the still-burgeoning “scandal” which shows the Executive Branch, the NSA (National Security Agency), the FBI, and other agencies broadly and vastly increasing their surveillance on private citizens.

As Nothern California ACLU Staff Attorney Michael Risher wrote this week, “The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding Maryland’s arrestee DNA testing law is a serious blow to genetic privacy. The ruling allows the police to seize the DNA of innocent Americans who have never been convicted of any sort of crime, without a search warrant.”

In writing the opinion, “The majority opinion goes against decades of precedent that makes it clear that the police cannot search an individual for evidence of a crime (and that’s clearly what they are doing here) without a specific reason to think that the search will actually uncover some evidence.”

DNA testing of arrestees has very little to do with identification of the accused individual and everything to do with solving unsolved crimes.

As Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, argued, “While no one disputes the importance of that interest, the Fourth Amendment has long been understood to mean that the police cannot search for evidence of a crime – and all nine justices agreed that DNA testing is a search – without individualized suspicion.”

When the decision came out, I had a long discussion on the issue with a friend of mine.  The bottom line is a lack of acknowledgement here that collecting DNA is vastly different from taking fingerprints or photographing suspects.

As Mr. Risher writes, “DNA is fundamentally different – it is our genetic blueprint.”

The court emphasized that the Maryland law only allows police to take DNA in cases where people are arrested and charged with very serious crimes.

In fact, under the Maryland law, “The government can only test the DNA samples of those people who have actually been charged with a crime and only after a judge has found that there is probable cause to think the person has actually committed a crime.”

However, other states have much more lenient policies.  In California, even the most minor crimes can allow the government to collect the DNA.

Writes Mr. Risher, “These laws also allow the government to analyze that DNA sample even if you are never charged with a crime or if a judge decides that there is no reason to think you have ever committed a crime in the first place.”

He indicated that the ACLU will move ahead with their challenge of California’s far broader law.

He writes, “We hope that the Courts will recognize that, despite today’s unfortunate decision, these much broader laws violate our fundamental rights to privacy and the Fourth Amendment’s command that ‘the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.’ A single police officer’s decision to arrest a person for a minor offense should not justify this intrusion into genetic privacy.”

For me, the real question is why would someone be reluctant to allow the government to store a registry of people’s DNA, particularly for those who have never been convicted of a crime?

It is here that the issue of DNA, at least for me, connects to another national story.  The article in the Guardian that shows “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.”

“The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

How did we get there?  Not overnight.  And that is the point.  ProPublica on Friday published a very comprehensive timeline that shows the evolution from the creation of the surveillance court or FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) in 1978 to the recent discovery of Obama administration encroachments.

Ironically, FISA was created in the aftermath of Watergate “to regulate how the government can monitor suspected spies or terrorists in the U.S.”

However, “The law establishes a secret court that issues warrants for electronic surveillance or physical searches of a ‘foreign power’ or ‘agents of a foreign power.’  However, “The government doesn’t have to demonstrate probable cause of a crime, just that the ‘purpose of the surveillance is to obtain foreign intelligence information.’ “

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, “Congress passes the sweeping USA Patriot Act. One provision, section 215, allows the FBI to ask the FISA court to compel the sharing of books, business documents, tax records, library check-out lists – actually, ‘any tangible thing’ – as part of a foreign intelligence or international terrorism investigation. The required material can include purely domestic records.”

In October 2003, ProPublica wrote, “AT&T technician Mark Klein discovers what he believes to be newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a ‘secret room’ at a company facility in San Francisco. Klein, who several years later goes public with his story to support a lawsuit against the company, believes the equipment enables ‘vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet – whether that be peoples’ e-mail, web surfing or any other data.’ “

Then in March 2004, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales go to the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Their purpose?  “To convince the seriously ill attorney general to sign off on the extension of a secret domestic spying program. Ashcroft refuses, believing the warrantless program to be illegal.”

ProPublica writes, “The hospital showdown was first reported by the New York Times, but two years later Newsweek provided more detail, describing a program that sounds similar to the one the Guardian revealed this week. The NSA, Newsweek reported, citing anonymous sources, collected without court approval vast quantities of phone and email metadata ‘with cooperation from some of the country’s largest telecommunications companies’ from ‘tens of millions of average Americans.’ “

In December 2005, warrantless wiretapping was revealed as the New York Times, “over the objections of the Bush Administration, reveals that since 2002 the government ‘monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants.’ ”  President Bush in January of 2006 defended what he called “the terrorist surveillance program.”

The Patriot Act was renewed in March 2006 and in May of that year, the “USA Today reports that the NSA has been collecting data since 2001 on phone records of ‘tens of millions of Americans’ through three major phone companies, Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth (though the companies level of involvement is later disputed.) The data collected does not include content of calls but rather data like phone numbers for analyzing communication patterns.”

In addition, in 2006, “The mass data collection reported by the Guardian this week apparently was first authorized by the FISA court in 2006, though exactly when is not clear. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday, “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.” Similarly, the Washington Post quoted an anonymous “expert in this aspect of the law” who said the document published by the Guardian appears to be a ‘routine renewal’ of an order first issued in 2006.”

In January 2007, “Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces that the FISA court has allowed the government to target international communications that start or end in the U.S., as long as one person is ‘a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.’ Gonzalez says the government is ending the ‘terrorist surveillance program,’ and bringing such cases under FISA approval.”

Later in August 2007, “The FISA court reportedly changes its stance and puts more limits on the Bush administration’s surveillance (the details of the court’s move are still not known.) In response, Congress quickly passes, and President Bush signs, a stopgap law, the Protect America Act.”

In September 2007, “The FBI and the NSA get access to user data from Microsoft under a top-secret program known as Prism, according to an NSA PowerPoint briefing published by the Washington Post and the Guardian this week. In subsequent years, the government reportedly gets data from eight other companies including Apple and Google. ‘The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies,’ according to the Guardian.”

In July 2008, “Congress follows up the Protect America Act with another law, the FISA Amendments Act, extending the government’s expanded spying powers for another four years. The law now approaches the kind of warrantless wiretapping that occurred earlier in Bush administration. Senator Obama votes for the act. The act also gives immunity to telecom companies for their participation in warrantless wiretapping.”

In 2009, the New York Times learned that “the NSA had gotten ahold of domestic communications it wasn’t supposed to.”

In February 2010, President Obama signed a temporary one-year extension of the Patriot Act and then again in May 2011.

In March 2012, “In a letter to the attorney general, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., write, ‘We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details’ of how the government has interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Because the program is classified, the senators offer no further details.”

In July 2012, Senator Wyden in a declassified statement said that FISA found “on at least one occasion that information collection carried out by the government was unconstitutional. But the details of that episode, including when it happened, have never been revealed.”

Congress then extended the FISA Amendment Act another five years in December 2012.

In April 2013, “As the Guardian revealed this week, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Roger Vinson issues a secret court order directing Verizon Business Network Services to turn over ‘metadata’ — including the time, duration and location of phone calls, though not what was said on the calls — to the NSA for all calls over the next three months.”

Verizon is ordered to deliver these records on an ongoing daily basis. and AT&T and Sprint have similar arrangements.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Saxby Chambliss, who are the chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, held a news conference this week to dismiss criticism of the order.

In an ironic statement, Senator Chambliss defended the program, stating, “This is nothing particularly new.  This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”

It is likely that in 1978 when FISA was created, and perhaps even in 2001 when the Patriot Act was passed – though civil libertarians doubtlessly would not be surprised, the extent of the intrusion by the federal government into the private lives of citizens was not contemplated.

However, when people wonder why civil libertarians and others are concerned about the court’s DNA ruling, watch the long history here.  My friend was trying to figure out exactly what the risk was of the DNA getting into the hands of those in government, but that is beside the point.  As we can see from the long history of FISA and surveillance, we may not be able to predict immediately the consequences of a broad-reaching policy.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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62 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Court Decision on DNA Opens the Door Much as FISA Did 35 Years Ago”

  1. Growth Izzue

    “In 2005, then-Senator Obama spoke out against the PATRIOT Act on the Senate floor. He said, “This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law. When national security letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive, how wide ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove the search is necessary. … No judge will hear your plea; no jury will hear your case. This is plain wrong.”

    “Fast-forward six years. On May 26, 2011, Obama signed a two-year extension of the PATRIOT Act. This updated version tossed some of the civil liberty protections contained in the earlier version and in other drafts considered by Congress.”

    “True, Obama promised, in the Democratic primaries of 2008, to filibuster against a proposed amnesty for telecoms firms that illegally co-operated with a request by the Office of the Vice President to divulge information about their customers. The conduct of the telecoms firms was a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which forbade eavesdropping on Americans without judicial oversight. But in July 2008, once Obama had secured the Democratic nomination, this became the first promise on which he reneged.”

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Patriot Act or taking DNA. That’s always been my position and it remains the same. But the hypocrisy of the left is astounding as evidenced by Obama’s lies and actual actions now being taken. It’s interesting to now watch the left fall all over themselves trying to defend this president when they cried like babies when Bush initiated the Patriot Act.

  2. Growth Izzue

    To me the far bigger scandal is the targeting by the IRS of conservative groups and individuals and who is behind it. That’s the true smoking gun.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    1. To you IRS may be but that’s not the topic here
    2. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s political expediency and its not a sole property of any one side
    3. There are really two wings of the left. The far left who has been concerned about this for over a decade. The other embodied by Feinstein and the admin that has no problem expanding the scope of the NSA
    4. I find your position laughable in that you are criticizing Obama for something you agree with as though he’s the only one who changed their view for political expediency. I assume you had similar reservations about Romney though I don’t remember you doing so
    5. My position is consistent: wrong under Bush, wrong under Obama.

  4. Growth Izzue

    [quote]I find your position laughable in that you are criticizing Obama for something you agree with as though he’s the only one who changed their view for political expediency. [/quote]

    As I stated, my position is consistent too. I just pointed out what a two-faced lying president we now have and many on the left are now squirming to try and justify how they were so adamantly against Bush’s Patriot Act policies and now have to somehow defend Obama.

  5. medwoman

    GI

    [quote]many on the left are now squirming to try and justify how they were so adamantly against Bush’s Patriot Act policies and now have to somehow defend Obama.[/quote]

    Could you name a few of “the many” with references to their comments ?

  6. JustSaying

    “For me the real question is why would someone be reluctant to allow the government to store a registry of people’s DNA, particularly for those who have never been convicted of a crime?”

    Agree. Additional DNA testing would help bring criminals to justice in a more even-handed way. In the worst case scenario, someone guilty of a bad act would avoid criminal activities, knowing that DNA testing could expose his guilt in the original crime.

    And what the heck is “genetic privacy,” anyhow? What would happen to the crime rate if we had universal DNA testing, something that would increase the certainty of identifying people actually responsible for serious crimes?

  7. Don Shor

    [quote]something that would increase the certainty of identifying people actually responsible for serious crimes?[/quote]
    And reduce the likelihood of wrongful execution.

    GI: read your own quote. Obama opposed amnesty for firms that cooperated with illegal use of FISA. But he voted to renew FISA. That is not an inconsistency. There is no hypocrisy in supporting legislation regarding national security but opposing its illegal use.

  8. Growth Izzue

    [quote]OBAMA SAID…
    “This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law. When national security letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive, how wide ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove the search is necessary. … If someone wants to know why their own Government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document, through the library books you read, the phone calls you have made, the e-mails you have sent, this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear your plea; no jury will hear your case. This is plain wrong. … We owe it to the Nation, we owe it to those who fought for our civil liberties, we owe it to the future and our children to make sure we craft the kind of legislation that would make us proud…” [67] (Senate, December 2005)

    OBAMA DID…
    In October 2009, Obama joined the GOP in pushing for the renewal of key provisions of the PATRIOT act, and of the law as a whole in 2010. After getting rid of the existing, inadequate protections of civil liberties included in the bill, and rejecting all proposed reforms aimed to protect civil liberties, the Senate Judiciary Committee, including nearly all of its Democrats, voted to pass the law at the express urging of the president. Many Democrats had vehemently condemned the law during Bush’s presidency. In July 2010, the Obama administration began to pressure Congress to rewrite the PATRIOT Act so as to give the FBI the right to access any individual’s Internet activity records without court oversight. In May 2011, a bipartisan effort by the leadership of both parties pushed through another 4-year extension of the law. The effort was spearheaded by Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both vocal opponents of the law during Bush’s presidency. Meanwhile, some Democratic senators have voiced concerns about the administration’s interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, which they claim contradicts the letter of the law and further expands its scope, based on a legal theory which the White House insists is “a secret” from the public. (See also section 4.) [68][69][70][70b][70c]

    The White House continues to push for the expansion of the use of national security letters. [/quote]

  9. Don Shor

    Congratulations — you changed the subject. Which is the pattern of your trolling here.
    Please provide your sources when you cut and paste.

  10. Davis Progressive

    not only is he cutting and pasting from talking points, but the talking points are not showing a necessary disconnect between his statements and actions. in fact, they are far less contradictory than I would have expected. the problem with using talking points is that you get no balance, no context, and limited citations.

  11. David M. Greenwald

    Back to the topic of hand, good debate here between Michael Risher of the ACLU and Mai Fernandez of the National Center for Victims of Crime

    [url]http://www.nationofchange.org/debate-supreme-court-oks-unfettered-dna-collection-invasion-privacy-or-blow-crime-1370788176[/url]

  12. medwoman

    [quote]Agree. Additional DNA testing would help bring criminals to justice in a more even-handed way. In the worst case scenario, someone guilty of a bad act would avoid criminal activities, knowing that DNA testing could expose his guilt in the original crime.
    [/quote]

    I also agree that additional DNA testing is likely to help in solving more crimes, and preventing more innocents from being convicted/ incarcerated/ executed and for these reasons I support it. However, I am not so sure of its deterrent effect. This pre supposes that most criminals actually use a risk benefit analysis prior to committing their crimes. I think that this gives many of these individuals, whose actions are often characterized by poor impulse control, lack of ability to defer gratification,and inability to coherently link cause and effect far too much credit.

  13. Don Shor

    Risher doesn’t make his case. There is no practical difference between taking a fingerprint and taking a DNA sample. It is no more intrusive.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    Don: There is a huge difference. DNA is a full blueprint on an individual’s genetic make up, a fingerprint is much more limited.

  15. Growth Izzue

    Don Shor:

    [quote]Which is the pattern of your trolling here. [/quote]

    Don, I really resent you calling me a troll or saying that I’m trolling. That’s the second time you’ve written that. I don’t feel I’m a troll, I present my side of the the argument just as other people present theirs. I’m sorry that you don’t like my posts because they differ from your political views but I think calling me a troll is way over the top and not what I’d expect coming from the moderator.

  16. David M. Greenwald

    First, Fingerprints are a lot more problematic than I think most people realized. Fingerprints are unique, but there is a lack of scientific testing in terms of the uniqueness of the sampling techniques. That error produced the potentially wrongful conviction of Brandon Mayfield in the Madrid bombing. Fortunately for him they found the right guy quickly or he may have been in trouble.

    There’s limited agreement on techniques or protocol, so using the fingerprint argument is less black and white.

    Second, all a fingerprint can be used for is identification. The potential is much greater for DNA to be misused by the government or by a private party that gets improper access. Part of my point of going through the long history of FISA and surveillance (which Growth Izzue clearly missed) was to show how a simple policy can morph over time with the advent of technology and time.

  17. Don Shor

    The key argument before the Supreme Court, at least according to the News Hour’s story on this, was that the DNA tests were being taken for the purpose of solving crimes that were unrelated to the activating event. As such, they didn’t (to the dissenters) have a constitutional basis. To try to make a distinction between fingerprinting and a DNA swab seems very shaky. The issue is on what basis they can take the DNA sample. I agree that states with broader laws may need to be reined in, whereas the law before the court was pretty narrow. So they’ll likely have to visit this again unless state legislatures bring their ordinances in line.

  18. medwoman

    David

    Thanks for posting the debate link. For me, the issue is not around the degree of invasiveness of the two tests which are roughly equal in degree of intrusion upon one’s body, nor about the extent of personal information acquired ( if anything, I think the DNA test is more likely to help the innocent than is the fingerprint because of its far greater specificity). For me, the issue hinges around the word “serious”. I think this is an area in which law enforcement, victims groups, and civil rights advocates could agree if there were complete transparency, perhaps a formal list of the crimes categorized as “serious” for which DNA testing could be done. Also, I am at a bit of a loss as to why judicial review should not precede this kind of testing much as for a search warrant. I may have overlooked this, but did not see it specifically addressed.

  19. Davis Progressive

    gi is not trolling but he/ she has two very annoying habits. first, he likes to respond by cut and paste without attribution and rarely makes his/ her own argument. second, often he/ she continues to post links rather than responding to people’s questions/ argument.

  20. Frankly

    DNA is just a more accurate, more complete genetic fingerprint. However, to David’s point, a DNA sample provides a lot more information than the ID of the owner. Interesting that I have not been a slippery-slope conspiracy kinda’ guy until the Obama administration. My concern is not so much different because of the Obama administration, it is different because of the media treatment of him. He is the Teflon messiah… and our first affirmative action President. He gets a pass for his incompetence and for his thumbing his nose at the laws and ethical standards we would tend to expect from any other President and his administration. If Hillary is elected we will get the same because she is a woman… as evident by her lack of career impacts from the Benghazi fiasco.

    Again, the problem is the liberal media. It has grown more liberal and is now completely brazen and unapologetic in tilting the “news” in favor of a good liberal victims’ group template.

    So, now taking DNA samples bother me because apparently there is nothing stopping the armies of Obama the messiah from using them for political purpose. The media won’t bother giving it much attention when it happens, so why not?

  21. Davis Progressive

    frankly: the time line that david lays out shows the slippery slop in effect long before obama became president. when you make the partisan argument, you lose the context.

  22. Frankly

    Growth Izzue, I am constantly entertained at these guys trying to shoot holes into the clear historical record of the astounding level of flip-flopping Obama hypocrisy. For a lefty, the end justifies the means. Their guy is in the Whitehouse so who cares that he lies, and lies, and lies?

    But by ignoring, denying and defending all these clear and non-argumentative buckets of evidence of Obama flip-flopping hypocrisy, they are really showing their true colors as loyal left ideologues… and this conflicts with their more favored claim of being 100% open-minded independents.

  23. medwoman

    GI

    [quote]Don, I really resent you calling me a troll or saying that I’m trolling. That’s the second time you’ve written that. I don’t feel I’m a troll, I present my side of the the argument just as other people present theirs. I’m sorry that you don’t like my posts because they differ from your political views but I think calling me a troll is way over the top and not what I’d expect coming from the moderator.[/quote]

    I agree with you that name calling, whether “troll” or any other derogatory is an inappropriate response to a difference of opinion. Until recently, I did not know what “trolling” was. A brief conversation with my son, and a quick check on Wikipedia led me to the following understanding of the word.

    [quote]In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community[/quote]

    I believe that it is your use of extraneous and off topic messages that led Don to post as he did. The specific example from this thread:

    [quote]To me the far bigger scandal is the targeting by the IRS of conservative groups and individuals and who is behind it. That’s the true smoking gun.[/quote]

    I think that most of us, and possibly you as well, might agree that this is an off topic comment.

  24. Mr.Toad

    Many serious crimes have been solved using DNA, the sweetheart murder case in Davis is just one example. You compare DNA testing to data mining and it seems to have a much greater benefit for crime prevention since getting rapists and murderers out of circulation is going to reduce repeat offenses.

  25. Frankly

    But with your guy in the Whitehouse the slippery slope has greatly increased its slide. Why isn’t there much more media and political attention given to it? There was a constant barrage of media attacks on the Bush Administration. Lefties where screaming until their voices matched their looks.

    All Obama has to do is deny, withhold information and let the media drop it and move on.

    Thank God for Fox and a few other cable news media outlets, otherwise greater tyranny would reign down from our Teflon messiah.

    My trust in government was always tempered by the understanding and expectation that our First Amendment rights would provide the check and balance and oversight to keep those in power from abusing that power. My trust in government has been significantly diminished as a result of the Obama administration. This period in time has demonstrated that the media is now a forth branch of government and it is completely corrupted and incapable to following its own standards of journalistic integrity. This period it time has also confirmed the danger of pure democracy and populist politics. Obama is an American Idol. He is a perfect politician for our time, and a lousy President for our time. He makes hearts go pitter-patter while we die from a thousand cuts of ineffective leadership.

    It has been said that those on the left of politics tend to fall in love with their politicians. That has been proven. Beyond that it has also been proven that those on the left have a greater propensity to remain in an abusive relationship. So, why do you stay with this man that abuses you so? “Because I love him”, is the answer. Sorry, but that is not good enough and frankly demonstrates that liberals in power are a danger to us and every country that needs effective political leadership.

  26. Mr.Toad

    One thing about the data mining that I haven’t heard anywhere. i heard an NPR story when this came up during the Bush administration where the argument was that Republicans should be concerned that future presidents would continue to use power gained by Bush. The argument was that these powers become institutionalized once acquired. So all this hand wringing from conservatives seems duplicitous. Why didn’t they speak up sooner?

    Maybe we should stop it. All Obama would cite was one case which calls into question whether its worth it.

  27. Don Shor

    [quote]Don: can you safeguard the information from potential future uses/ abuses? That is my concern?[/quote]

    I think the benefits of maintaining a large DNA database outweigh the costs. As with any data trove, the potential for abuse is there. As I said, the courts may have to strike a balance on how states can act on this. Once again we have a patchwork of state laws, and some of them probably go too far. But in terms of solving crimes and proving innocence, a DNA database has great potential. I don’t really see where the misuse you are concerned about comes from. What exactly do you think would be done with this that you are concerned about?

    GI: I inadvertently removed your YouTube link. I was going in to edit it because I thought it wasn’t working, and hit the wrong key. Sorry. Re-post it if you like.

  28. Growth Izzue

    Medwoman:

    [quote]I think that most of us, and possibly you as well, might agree that this is an off topic comment. [/quote]

    Yes Medwoman, I agree that it was a slightly off topic comment, but the same type of off topic comments that I see so commonly posted here that seem to slide by with no backlash.

    Don Shor/David,

    Why did you delete my post of the video of Obama talking about the Patriot
    Act? That video was totally on topic.

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF3MC-TkpRQ[/url]

  29. JimmysDaughter

    I’m sick of government interference. I thought privacy was a right in this country. Innocent people are arrested without probable cause, then someone can steal their DNA? Then someone else can make a mistake in a lab & ID the innocent person’s DNA and then wrongfully accuse them of another crime? Yikes.

  30. JimmysDaughter

    “DNA testing of arrestees has very little to do with identification of the accused individual and everything to do with solving unsolved crimes.”
    Guess I just don’t have enough faith in the lab workers.

  31. JimmysDaughter

    “The court emphasized that the Maryland law only allows police to take DNA in cases where people are arrested and charged with very serious crimes.”

    Dixon police wrongfully arrested my friend, and later the charges against him were dropped. So in that scenario, they could have collected his DNA, because it was a serious crime that he was wrongfully accused of.

    That’s not good.

  32. Growth Izzue

    Frankly:
    [quote]Growth Izzue, I am constantly entertained at these guys trying to shoot holes into the clear historical record of the astounding level of flip-flopping Obama hypocrisy. For a lefty, the end justifies the means. Their guy is in the Whitehouse so who cares that he lies, and lies, and lies?

    But by ignoring, denying and defending all these clear and non-argumentative buckets of evidence of Obama flip-flopping hypocrisy, they are really showing their true colors as loyal left ideologues… and this conflicts with their more favored claim of being 100% open-minded independents. [/quote]

    That’s all I was doing Frankly, pointing out Obama’s hypocrisy using his own words but somehow in the eyes of some on here that makes me a troll. Did you see the youtube video that I posted? I reposted it above after it ‘inadvertently’ was deleted.

  33. medwoman

    JD

    [quote]Innocent people are arrested without probable cause, then someone can steal their DNA?[/quote]

    I don’t believe that anyone is arguing that this should be done “without probable cause”. The problem then becomes that it is some branch of law enforcement or our judicial system that gets to determine what constitutes “probable cause”. It seems to me that what this represents is a fine balance between providing societal safety and individual rights. Never an easy balance to achieve.

    [quote]Then someone else can make a mistake in a lab & ID the innocent person’s DNA and then wrongfully accuse them of another crime? Yikes.[/quote]

    I also don’t think that human error is being defended here. Errors can be made in processing any piece of evidence. I do not see this as a reason for banning evidence. It just means that all evidence needs to be presented with an honest representation of its rate of false positives, false negatives and areas of uncertainty.

  34. JimmysDaughter

    MW: “The problem then becomes that it is some branch of law enforcement or our judicial system that gets to determine what constitutes “probable cause”.

    Yes, so innocent people can have their privacy invaded. What percent of innocent people do you propose is okay, for the sake of the greater good of catching a really horrible criminal? Is it okay to violate 1% of our population if we could catch a truly horrible, dangerous criminal? I think many people out there might say 1% is okay, until they end up being in that 1% who is falsely accused of a crime they did not commit, arrested hastily without probable cause, have their right to privacy taken away for the greater good of society, then spend their life savings on defense lawyers. It’s a slippery slope.

  35. JimmysDaughter

    P.S. I have sat on 2 juries where the jury members really did not care to weigh the information re: the breathalizer error rate, calibration problems, etc. I think most jurors will want to assume that the DNA evidence is collected correctly and identified correctly, and they are not going to give proper consideration to false positives, etc.

  36. JustSaying

    [quote]“I don’t believe that anyone is arguing that this should be done “without probable cause”[/quote]I’m probably close to that because I don’t see that any right is violated by ID’ing someone with DNA.

    You’re probably right it’s wishful thinking that it might provide a deterrent effect, since the death penalty doesn’t seem to.

    But, I’d like to have the real crook identified instead of me. I’d appreciate my family “getting closure” when the cops find my body out in the desert. I’d like child molesters to be stopped before they become mass rapists. I’d like to make sure the bombers get tracked down. I’d like to kidnapped baby to get back to her family even if it’s been 10 years. So many benefits to universal DNA testing.

    Other than the unconvincing “genetic privacy” Constitutional right, I don’t see how the difference in DNA and finger-print use (more accurate, less subject to misinterpretation, etc.) would be a problem for anyone other than the guilty.

  37. medwoman

    JD

    [quote]arrested hastily without probable cause[/quote]

    Again, I do not know what led you to believe that this would be done without probable cause. Do you believe that citizens are routinely not just stopped, but arrested without “probable cause” ? If you do believe this, what would your criteria be for probable cause ?

    And yes, it is true for me. Given that approximately 1/3 of murders in this country go unsolved and a higher percentage of rapes, I would rather go through the inconvenience and frustration of having my DNA taken than to miss the chance to catch a dangerous criminal.

  38. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Don: There is a huge difference. DNA is a full blueprint on an individual’s genetic make up, a fingerprint is much more limited.[/quote]

    I’m not sure why you would complain about collecting DNA after posting multiple stories complaining about the science behind fingerprints.

  39. David M. Greenwald

    I don’t see the connection between my concern about the “science” behind fingerprints and my concern about the government’s capacity to safeguard people’s privacy storing a large volume of DNA profiles.

  40. Growth Izzue

    I don’t see the problem with the useage or storage of one’s DNA to help the police find suspects. If the stored DNA profile leads to someone you can bet that another DNA test will be administered at that time to indeed make sure that the police have the right suspect.

  41. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > Given that approximately 1/3 of murders in this country
    > go unsolved and a higher percentage of rapes, I would
    > rather go through the inconvenience and frustration of
    > having my DNA taken than to miss the chance to catch a
    > dangerous criminal.

    Would you want the government to listen to all your phone calls (if they are not doing this already) if it could help “catch a dangerous criminal”?

    Would you want the government to have the ability to come in to your home and search the place at any time if they thought it would help “catch a dangerous criminal”?

  42. JimmysDaughter

    “Would you want the government to have the ability to come in to your home and search the place at any time if they thought it would help “catch a dangerous criminal”?”

    I’ve had my home searched on numerous occasions and it is no fun at all. Especially when you are fully cooperating and law enforcement still chooses to handcuff you. I was in a very light-weight ctton, oversized,tee shirt (my pajama’s) and I was still handcuffed while the law enforcement searched my home in Davis. They arrived at my home at 6:55 a.m. No fun at all.

  43. JimmysDaughter

    I understand that people are frustrated re: unsolved crimes. But just take a look at one recent, particularly heinous crime- the criminal was Philip Garrido. He should NEVER have been released from prison in the first place. Put systems in place to safeguard against violent criminals getting released from prison.

  44. JustSaying

    Would you want the government to listen to all your phone calls (if they are not doing this already) if it could help “catch a dangerous criminal” Would you want the government to have the ability to come in to your home and search the place at any time if they thought it would help “catch a dangerous criminal”?

    These are trick questions, right? Even if the government had evidence and probable cause to believe that I was a dangerous criminal and got a warrant to listen to my phone calls and search my home, of course I would not want them to do these things. However, I definitely would want them to if I were anyone other than the suspect.

  45. medwoman

    [quote]Would you want the government to listen to all your phone calls (if they are not doing this already) if it could help “catch a dangerous criminal”?

    Would you want the government to have the ability to come in to your home and search the place at any time if they thought it would help “catch a dangerous criminal”?
    [/quote]

    If there were probable cause to believe that listening to my phone calls or searching my home would indeed lead to the capture of a dangerous criminal, my answer is of course I would. Really, wouldn’t you also want that if it did lead to taking a dangerous criminal off the street ?

  46. medwoman

    [quote]Put systems in place to safeguard against violent criminals getting released from prison.[/quote]

    I see this as an “and” not an “either or”. Of course there should be safeguards against releasing violent criminals
    …..and we should be doing more to apprehend the violent criminals who remain at large. These are not mutually exclusive goals and both should be pursued.

  47. Iggee

    they can ‘sieze’ your fingerprints without a warrant, or a conviction. they can ‘sieze’ your photograph (one of you) without a conviction. collection of DNA evidence, as with fingerprint evidence, helps to find perps. what precisely are we worried about here?

  48. JimmysDaughter

    lggee, It sounds to me like you have been a very fortunate person who has never been incorrectly hassled by law enforcement & has never been subject to a home search by law enforcement, never had your civil rights violated by several heavily armed men coming into your oasis, your home, at 6:55 a.m.and handcuffing you. I’m happy for you that you have been so fortunate, I really am. I do not wish bad things to happen to innocent people. Try to put yourself in another’s shoes. Try to imagine being bothered in your family home when you are 100% innocent. Just try to imagine that, please. Then you may understand why some people do not trust law enforcement to correctly handle their private information. My dad was a cop, a very good cop. So I do not write these things lightly. Thank you.

  49. JimmysDaughter

    Medwoman, I understand your opinion. But at the end of the day, when I suffer trauma, fear, anxiety, after I (an innocent person) was handcuffed in my home, who pays for my therapy bills? Should the government pay for my therapist and my medication?

  50. JimmysDaughter

    Was it okay for the government to intern Japanese people for the greater good of national security & “public safety”? Is it okay for Arizona law enforcement to search cars of Mexican-looking people for “public safety”? In those examples, when the people are 100% innocent, is it okay to violate their civil rights because once in a while, law enforcement might find a person who is truly guilty? Where does it all end?

  51. JimmysDaughter

    Re: “public safety”
    Was it okay for Los Angeles law enforcement to accidentally riddle the wrong car with bullets because it sort of looked like the car of a cop killer? When two innocent women were just trying to deliver newspapers early in the morning, was it okay for them to have their civil rights violated, in the name of “public safety”?

  52. Iggee

    Jimmysdaughter: errr… i wouldn’t make any assumptions about who you are as a person. please return the courtesy. You are 100% completely wrong in all of your assumptions about me. And my father was a police officer also.

    You failed to address the question, which was: What precisely are we worried about here?

    To say that ‘some people do not trust law enforcement to correctly handle their private information’ is not an answer.

    It could be argued that your fingerprints are ‘private’, your photograph ‘private’. Your shoe size, your height, weight, all ‘private’ and personal info.

    perhaps you might provide an example of how law enforcement might ‘incorrectly handle’ such information.

    I dont’ think DNA should be any more private than fingerprints or blood type. DNA is a more detailed ‘fingerprint’. It is meant to identify a single individual person, out of a potential group. why is DNA ‘private’? where is the harm?
    your statements about being handcuffed in your home, do not address the DNA question.

  53. Iggee

    and don’t misunderstand, i’m not arguing that there is no harm. I’m simply asking a question: where is the harm? and making the statement that collection of DNA evidence has helped to identify perps. if someone has evidence that there is a harm, by all means enlighten us.

  54. JimmysDaughter

    lggee, It is nice that you & I have something in common – our dads were both cops. To answer your question, no one has the right to swab my mouth & steal my DNA without my permission. Thank you.

  55. JimmysDaughter

    “they can ‘sieze’ your fingerprints without a warrant, or a conviction. they can ‘sieze’ your photograph (one of you) without a conviction. collection of DNA evidence, as with fingerprint evidence, helps to find perps. what precisely are we worried about here?

    DNA must be swabbed or I guess they can pull a piece of my hair off my head or follow me to a restaurant & steal a glass or soda can that I was drinking from, or steal my hairbrush, etc… But I still don’t like it. I have a right to pursue happiness if I am not hurting others. I will not be happy when people steal my DNA without my permission. It is invasive.

  56. JimmysDaughter

    I know someone who was trained to do handwriting analysis for DOJ (years ago)and also she was trained at fingerprint analysis. Believe me, humans make errors, so I am sure lab workers handling DNA make errors, too.

  57. Iggee

    so far, you have not answered the question. where is the harm?
    people also argue that fingerprinting is invasive. yet it’s the norm, and it helps solve crimes, as does the collection of DNA evidence. take a look at innocenceproject.org, where hundreds have been freed on DNA evidence, and where at times the true perpetrators have been identified, because of DNA evidence collection.

    to say people can make errors is great. can you provide an example of errors in cases where DNA was used to erroneously convict someone?

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