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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 10, 2010

OBAMA BACKS ANOTHER INVASION OF PRIVACY

POLITICO - President Barack Obama's embrace of a national database to store the DNA of people arrested but not necessarily convicted of a crime is heartening to backers of the policy but disappointing to criminal-justice reformers, who view it as an invasion of privacy.

Others also worry the practice would adversely affect minorities.

In an interview aired Saturday on "America's Most Wanted," Obama expressed strong agreement as host John Walsh extolled the virtues of collecting DNA at the time of an arrest and putting it into a single, national database.

"We have 18 states who are taking DNA upon arrest," Walsh said. "It's no different than fingerprinting or a booking photo. ... Since those states have been doing it, it has cleared 200 people that are innocent from jail."

"It's the right thing to do," Obama replied. "This is where the national registry becomes so important, because what you have is individual states - they may have a database, but if they're not sharing it with the state next door, you've got a guy from Illinois driving over into Indiana, and they're not talking to each other.". . .

"I'm actually surprised he would give an answer like that," said Deborah Peterson Small of Break the Chains, which studies the impact of drug laws on minority groups. "I'd think he and people around him would know that collecting DNA samples from arrestees is more controversial than collecting it from people who've been convicted."

"It's a horrible idea - tremendously invasive," said Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who also disputed Walsh's claim that DNA is no different from fingerprints.

"It's like a hair sample, looking at your health care records and everything else," Quigley said. "It's like giving a blank check to the government - a blank check they can cash anytime they feel like it."


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