Sunday, February 17, 2008

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Voting Record

In light of the New York Times article that takes a closer look at how government surveillance not only violates existing law regarding Americans' privacy, but also has severe logistical issues in the technology age, I decided to post those senators who voted for the amendment that would strike immunity for communications companies who broke the law by handing over phone records without a warrant and those who voted against the amendment.

Voted for the amendment (in other words, do not want immunity for the companies):

Senator Daniel Akaka (D - Hawaii)
Senator Max Baucus (D - Montana)
Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware)
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico)
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California)
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington)
Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland)
Senator Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania)
Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) - Sponsor of the amendment
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois)
Senator Feingold (D-Wisconsin)
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)
Senator John Kerry (D-Masschusetts)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan)
Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey)
Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington)
Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois)
Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York)
Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)

Those who voted against the amendment (in other words, those who want immunity for the phone companies):

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee)

Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado)
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming)
Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah)
Senator Kit Bond (R-Montana)
Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
Senator Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky)
Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina)
Senator Thomas Carper (D-Delaware)
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia)
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma)
Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi)
Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota)
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Senator Kent Conrad (R-North Dakota)
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee)
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)
Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico)
Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada)
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California)
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire)
Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas)
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia)
Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota)
Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona)
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana)
Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-Connecticut)
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas)
Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana)
Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida)
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Montana)
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
Senator Babara Mikulski (D-Maryland)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida)
Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)
Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas)
Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)
Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado)
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)
Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon)
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
Senator John Sununu (R-New Hampshire)
Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota)
Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana)
Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Senator John Warner (R-Virginia)
Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia)
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi)

Those senators who felt voting (their main job) was not important:

Senator Hilary Clinton (D-New York)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)

What is interesting here is that Hilary Clinton, who is spouting her stance against the Iraq War seems to feel that voting on a bill about national security (which is directly related to the war) is not that important (the Times article linked in my earlier blog post seems to have incorrectly stated that Obama did not vote).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

NYPD: Rounding Up Criminals or Hiring Them?

Yonkers brawlers and NYPD officers who looked the other way (Gothamist)
With the trial for Sean Bell's killers coming up later this month, one would think that Ray Kelly would try to keep his officers' behavior tip top. Alas, that is not the case.

Back on September 14, 2 off-duty NYPD officers and a friend were involved in an incident in Yonkers, right over the Bronx border, in which a man was punched and lost vision in his left eye. Two NYPD officers on patrol witnessed one of the off-duty officers, Michael McGhee, punch the victim, Peter Cummins. In a logical move, the two patrol officers put McGhee in cuffs.

So, as the process goes, McGhee should have been brought to the patrolling officers' precinct, where the officer would fill out the relevant paperwork, and then be sent to central booking and arraigned. But no. Allegedly McGhee tells the patrolling officers that he and his friend, Thomas Wimmer, are both NYPD cops, so the two patrolling officers, Stella Ibanez and Jeffrey Alicea let them go. When Yonkers PD showed up (considering that technically it was their jurisdiction) Officers Ibanez and Alicea failed to mention the fact that they had a suspect in custody or that they had let said suspect go.

As Yonkers PD, Westchester DA's office and NYPD Internal Affairs investigated, the story started coming to light. The three bar goers (off-duty officers McGhee, Wimmer, and a civilian friend Patrick Tully) have been charged with third degree assault, a misdemeanor. The problem is that the law dictates that these men should be charged with second degree assault (with intent to cause serious physical injury, as opposed to intent to cause injury [I think vision loss would count as a serious injury]) and gang assault in the first degree (assaulting someone with intent to cause serious physical injury when aided by two or more people). These offenses are Class D and Class B felonies, respectively. But then again, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to charging civilians and charging law enforcement officers.

Rockin Robin Pub on McLean Ave
(Irish Emigrant)
 The two officers who tried to cover it up have both been charged with two counts of official misconduct each. The lawyers for the cops are spouting the usual rhetoric of "my client did nothing wrong, etc." but Officer Thomas Wimmer has already stepped up and taken responsibility for his actions by resigning from the force. His lawyer says that he merely found another opportunity that was better for him, but that seems quite coincidental.

Apparently the area where the incident occurred, McLean Avenue in Yonkers, is a hotbed of activity with which one does not really want to be involved. On January 4, 2006 two off-duty officers found themselves in the middle of an argument between two patrons in Rory Dolan's, one of the numerous Irish pubs on McLean Avenue, when one of the patrons stabbed one of the officers and was subsequently killed by the other officer (who was cleared in late April of any wrongdoing.) Even the judge in the recent case exclaimed that that area is not a great one to be in late at night.

NYPD Officer Patrick Venetek
This story comes out just a week after the story of a cop in Brooklyn who accidentally shot a toddler in the arm while cleaning his gun. Apparently Officer Patrick Venetek thought it was a good idea to clean the gun while it was loaded. Additionally, because he was delinquent on his electricity bill, the lighting was not great considering it was shut off. His brother tried to come up with an excuse, saying that they were so poor it was either the rent or the electricity that month, but offered no excuse as to why there were piles of trash and dirty clothes in their hallway outside their apartment or explanation for the large number of empty beer cans and cigarette packs lying around. (At $25 a 30 rack and $7 a pack of cigarettes, I think a reduction in the drinking and smoking could have led to a bill payment). Luckily, the NYPD took his gun away, so no more random discharges of the weapon should be occurring.

But the question is: how do people like this make it on the force? The main reason is the salary. It is so piss-poor that people left the force in 2006, despite Mayor Bloomberg and Ray Kelly's promise to add 800 more officers in 2006 (in actuality, the force shrunk by 307 officers). In 2005 the starting salary for an NYPD cop was $39,000; in 2006 it had been slashed more than than $10K to $25,100. Compare that to Nassau County cops ($34,000) and Suffolk County ($57,811).

The NYPD recruitment website says that it will not hire felons, but that leaves misdemeanors (which, for perspective, is what the three people accused of blinding the man in the eye on McLean Ave. in Yonkers are charged with) open for new hires (except petit larceny and domestic violence.) With the department so desperate for recruits, it should come as no surprise that people who would blind a guy in his eye and then try to cover it up, or someone who feels booze and cigarettes are more important than the electricity bill would make it onto the force. This is a dangerous road to go down, as those cops who are dirty or sleazy but are not overt about it move up the ranks.

NYPD Recruitment Van (tom_hoboken Flickr)
If the city wants to stop this problem, bump up the requirements to be a cop. If you paid a cop $50,000 a year, required a college education (instead of just 60 credits or military service and a GED) and a GPA of something over 2.0 (the current requirement, which is a C), plus a psychological evaluation, stories like this would be less and less common. Hell, if the starting salary were $50,000 I would be a cop. Instead, cops have to deal with so much BS and are paid so little, it's no wonder some of them are jerks (this, of course, does not excuse their behavior.)

College grads go after jobs on Wall Street and in law firms and medical professions. If the base pay and requirements for being a cop were on the same scale as some of the lower-tier financial and law firms and competitiveness for these jobs were high, police departments would be much different (in a good way.) There are cops out there who would be able to be a cop with these heightened requirements; the point of the requirements would be to weed out those who really should not have that much power (or weaponry, for that matter) in society and attract new people who would live up to high standards.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Next Time You're on the Phone, Say Hi to the Government

The Senate yesterday took a massive step backwards when it comes to civil liberties in this country. In a 68-29 vote, the upper house of Congress chose to reject amendments to a new domestic spying bill that would have restricted the government's ability to tramp all over your civil liberties. It's one thing when legislation like this is proposed directly after 9/11 when patriotism and the fear of terrorism has gripped the nation, but we are over 6 years removed from 9/11. The government has offered little to no evidence that the Patriot Act prevented any type of terrorist attack on this country, so why do we need to essentially expand upon it?

One of the more contentious parts of the bill is the fact that is grants legal immunity to those phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon who illegally gave phone records to the government sans warrant (as a refresher, here is a link to the 4th Amendment). The New York Times article I cite (CNN ran nothing on the story as of 2:30 pm today, deciding that whatever Roger Clemens put in his ass or wondering if anyone gave a shit about the Oscars was more important) says that those who supported immunity for the phone companies said that the companies gave up the records out of patriotism. With such logic, doing anything that the president does not want you to do (like opposing the war, calling for equality for gays, etc.) is unpatriotic. That is a highly dangerous way of thinking (I could point you in the direction of a dictator from Germany a while back who used the guise of patriotism to do horrific things). Obviously we are not at 1930s and 1940s Germany's point, but why even take a baby step in that direction?

One interesting thing was that a highly influential individual in the debates arguing for the immunity aspect of this bill came in the form of Senator John D. Rockefeller of West Virginia, who has received considerable money from both AT&T and Verizon. The New York Times article says $42,000 in contributions from executives at these two companies last year and has received $37,600 from AT&T and $30,500 from Verizon since 2003. You don't think that would have anything to do with his pushing for immunity for these companies, do you?

The bill says that the surveillance would only be foreign-based communication and Americans would not be the target. The problem is that there is no court overlooking this surveillance until after the fact. In other words, the government can do whatever it wants and face a slap on the wrist from some secret court tribunal well after the action has been taken. This would not be unprecedented, as reports have come out detailing the abuses that various "intelligence" organizations committed under the veil of the Patriot Act.

The bill has not been passed yet, but the large amount of support in the Senate is highly disconcerting. The House gave them the bill without the immunity for phone companies and also with much more restrictions on governmental spying. The Senate did not like that and is sending it back to the House with the aforementioned revisions.

What does this mean? Well, for one, it shows the massive divide in the Democratic party that has been highlighted in the primaries. Secondly, it shows the inability of the Democrats to stand up for their constituents for fear of being labeled by paranoid Republicans as being weak on terrorism, as Senator Patrick J. Leahy pointed out, and it also shows that money runs certain aspects of politics. So next time you're talking to grandma on the phone to say hi, don't forget to shout out your friends at the NSA. Peace.

Photos - NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland (, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) (, "Wait, who's listening to us? Anyway, have you found a good girl yet?" (

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Daily Item Seeks Tape from Talbot Case

Kudos to the Daily Item for exercising their right to information sketched out in Massachusetts' Public Records Law in suing Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley for withholding the crucial tape of the events that occurred behind Revere High's on September 29, 2007. These videotapes allegedly show some of the events (though I am not sure if it is all of the events) of what happened the night that Revere Police Officer Daniel Talbot was murdered.

Since the outset of this case I, along with many other people with blogs or just people commenting on news stories, have felt that something is being held from the public. Just for reference, I have also talked about this case here, and here. The story that the DA's office is spinning just does not add up. Four off-duty cops who felt their presence at area bars may stir up trouble are "socializing" behind a high school at 1 am, and one ends up shot with one officer running away and the other two unable to hit any of the assailants (despite having their weapons with them and being trained police officers). A canvas of the area turns up little but a disassembled, non-police issue handgun in a storm drain. The DA comes out less than 24 hours after the incident to say that Talbot was not killed by one of his fellow officers' guns, despite the fact that no one had thought about that before the DA said it. From the seemingly small amount of evidence, four people are arrested. A "homeless misfit" is charged with accessory before the fact (calling up someone to kill Talbot because the two got into a verbal altercation at the park), a girl and a guy are charged with accessory after the fact (breaking down the gun which I do not think has been reported as having prints on it), and one person has been charged as the principal shooter. All of this is laid out in the links to my other posts, I was just giving a brief overview to portray how confusing and illogical this all sounds.

Many of the questions I have asked about this case have gone unanswered. Why were these off-duty cops behind the school? Why have two of them been allowed back to work, but not one of them? Why did the police officers think their presence would cause alarm at local bars? Why did they not call on their fellow boys in blue when they got into a fight with Derek Lodie (the minor charged with accessory before the fact)? More importantly: what is going on?

This brings me to the Daily Item's pending legal action. Under Massachusetts' version of the Freedom of Information Act (which at the federal level does not apply to states, thus why MA has their own version), a public record is to be released to the public if it is requested in writing, which the Daily Item did. The DA's office refused to release the tape after receiving the December 6, 2007 letter, citing the ongoing investigation. The Item responded a week later, outlining the reasons that the DA's office was obligated to release the tape, to which the DA's office did not respond.

There is no doubt that the tape itself is public record. It is on public property (Revere High) and its installation and maintenance is paid for with public funds (i.e. taxpayer money). The office that is withholding it from the public is a public office and some of the subjects on the videotape were public officials. The only way that the DA's office could hold onto the tape is by exception 26f in Massachusetts Public Law Chapter 4 Section 7 (the state's version of the Freedom of Information Act) which states that public records should be disclosed unless they are "investigatory materials, necessarily compiled out of the public view by law enforcement or other investigatory officials, the disclosure of which materials would probably so prejudice the possibility of effective law enforcement that such disclosure would not be in the public interest."

Is the tape considered "investigatory materials"? Yes. The question is will it hinder the prosecution of the four defendants. Not in my eyes. There is little doubt that the tape will be shown at trial anyway and it seems that the investigation is not currently ongoing (no further arrests have been hinted at). Withholding the tapes is certainly not in the public interest, as many have asked why the details of the shooting are so sketchy. It would actually be in the DA's interest to release the tapes and silence the rumors right now. Everything about this case involves public monies, the public has a right to know what happened. Since the DA clearly cannot communicate what happened in a manner that leaves no doubt as to the events of that night, maybe the tape can. Peace.

Photos - Suffolk County DA Daniel Conley (, Officer Daniel Talbot (

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

McCain's Got a Walk-In Closet of Skeletons

John McCain and his wife in New Hampshire
(VictoryNH: Protect Out Primary Flickr)
It seems that John McCain is poised to win the Republican nomination, to the chagrin of many hard-line conservatives. With all of the media's talk about "electability," I figured maybe it was time to look at McCain's electability, because this is a man very similar to my Rudy Giuliani who, as it turned out, has endorsed McCain (birds of a feather fly together).

On the issues, McCain is not great. Some good things about him shine through, such as the waterboarding being torture assertion and his murky abortion rhetoric (which, from what I can gather, simply means it is up to the woman.)

However, other issues of his are startling, such as his assertion that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is working, keeping military options open in Iran even if they do not have nukes, his call for more death penalty sentences and tougher criminal sentences in general, and his general hawkishness. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is moronic and illogical. Iran does not have nukes nor will it be capable of having nukes anytime soon, but military intervention is an option McCain wants to keep open? All because he thinks that talk is over-rated. Tougher criminal sentences? We already imprison a record number of people in this country, the last thing we (and the budget) need is more people in prison.

Of course, McCain speaks about all of these things, but his actions throughout his life speak to very different values. John McCain was a war hero. Even though he seems to have received preferential treatment in the Navy because his grandfather and father were both admirals, what he went through in Vietnam as a Prisoner of War sounds horrific and I'm not even going to touch it. However, other things that he did in the Navy show that he is not the clean-cut Republican he claims to be.

John McCain at a 1974 interview (Wikipedia)
His sexual exploits seem to be in high numbers. In John McCain: An American Odyssey, Robert Timberg lays out some scenarios which the future senator found himself in on some trips during his time in the Navy, one of which is laid out here. Of course, this would not be a big deal if he were not so pro-abstinence when he is in the view of the public. But I guess McCain does not feel the need to follow his own advice. Especially when hiring staff members for his presidential campaign.

The same would be apparent when it comes to adultery. A Christian man like McCain likes to spout family values. He does not like to practice them, however. This can be clearly evidenced by taking a glance at his divorce from his first wife Carol Shepp. Upon returning from Vietnam, McCain came home to find his wife recovering from a horrific car accident. Both John and Carol have said that they were both different people when McCain returned from Vietnam and that is the reason they broke up.

However, they did not divorce until McCain had a pitcher in the bullpen in the form of Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a wealthy Anheuser-Busch distributor and well-connected Arizona man, James Henley. The two began an affair about a year before McCain decided to divorce from Carol. Less than a month after the divorce was finalized he married Cindy, who was 17 years younger than him. Not a nice story.

It ended up OK for McCain, who was able to launch a political career in newly expanding Arizona (with some financial help from the Mrs.) His new wife turned to philanthropy, trying her hand out at a charity organization called American Voluntary Medical Team, a group that volunteered time to do medical work in third world countries. A noble thing to do.

But then Cindy McCain began to steal drugs from the organization to feed an addiction to painkillers. Employees began to notice her erratic behavior and figured out what was going on. One man, Tom Gosinski, deduced that his name was being used to file false prescriptions (ordered by doctors from AVMT) to feed Cindy McCain's habit, at which point he tipped off the DEA. He was subsequently fired and filed suit 11 months later, claiming he was only fired because he knew about Cindy McCain's addiction.

The story broke around the same time that McCain was running for president in 2000 (the year he lost the nomination to Bush). In order to maintain a chance in the polls, McCain and company were able to play it very well, according to Amy Silverman at Salon. McCain had a lawyer call up the Maricopa County attorney (a McCain friend) and have him investigate Gosinksi for extortion, due to his lawsuit. The only issue with that is the fact that it defies logic: if Gosinski were suing for hush money, he wouldn't tell the DEA before he filed suit

Needless to say, no criminal charges were ever filed against Gosinski. The day that the DEA report was to be made public about Cindy McCain, she went on national television and tearfully explained her ordeal, diverting attention from the glaring facts of the case. Cindy McCain received no criminal record for her admitted behavior, but instead entered a treatment facility (which has since been contested) and saw no jail time. To McCain's credit, he spouts his love for this type of treatment of addicts, which is better than straight jail time. However, the drugs were not the only crime committed by Cindy McCain, but I guess the judge saw no problem with Mrs. McCain's theft from a charitable organization or filling false prescriptions (under false names.)

Charles Keating of the Keating Five
(Arizona Capital Times)
As if all of this was not enough, McCain has proven himself to be a crooked politician. He was part of the infamous Keating Five, who, amidst the savings and loans scandal of the late 80s, tried to get one of the most crooked S&Ler's off the hook. The whole story is long and complicated, and I will not reproduce it here. Suffice it to say that McCain got off easy with a "poor judgement" ruling by the Senate Ethics Committee and he has been accused of leaking sensitive information to the press to discredit his co-defendants to make himself look better (which has been partially confirmed by the Boston Globe). Definitely read that link, though, because it will make McCain's rhetoric about money corrupting politics make him look ridiculous. That's real easy to say when you're an incumbent who no longer needs the money from crooks to get into office.

In conclusion, McCain should not be in office. If he has done things like he did with Charles Keating as a freshman senator, imagine what he would be able to do as president of this country. Was it a mistake? Of course it was, but admitting a mistake does not make it go away nor does it make what happened OK. The fact that McCain got to remain a senator after that debacle is amazing and he should be content with that.

Monday, February 4, 2008

FBI Wants to Create Massive Database of Your Personal Traits

Source: NYTimes
First off, sorry for not posting for a while, but the stomach flu and a head cold (back to back) have kept me from this blog. In any event, the feds now want even more power when it comes to knowing exactly what you are doing. First, of course, there is the Patriot Act that allowed Congress and the President to supersede judicial processes to eavesdrop on telephone conversations, among other things. I hoped that the Patriot Act would be the last piece of legislation of its kind, but if the FBI has their way it will not be.

What the feds want to do is simple: create a massive database of people's physical characteristics to better identify terrorists and criminals. It sounds OK at first glance, but the implications of this are huge. The FBI wants palm prints (as opposed to the fingerprints they already have), eye scans, mug shots and pictures of scars and tattoos. Anything that could identify a person.

So what's the problem? With this information the government (and anybody willing to pay the government) will be able to find out where you've been and when you were there. The CNN article on the subject cited a 2006 German study about facial recognition in a train station. It sounded like it was being done through surveillance cameras because it talked about the lighting during the day and during the night, meaning you can be digitally identified by simply walking by a CCTV camera.

NSA Headquarters (Source: NerdyLorrin)
One of the main arguments is that if you're not doing anything illegal then you have nothing to worry about. The problem is I like my privacy. Am I doing anything wrong? No. I just like to know I am not being watched and tracked everywhere I go (a pretty reasonable request). The bigger problem, however, is the "slippery slope" issue. Already there is talk of employers using this technology to keep tabs on their employees. For instance, the CNN article mentions a "rap-back" program in which the feds keep employees' fingerprints on file and if they get arrested or in trouble with the law they will let the employer know that said person's fingerprints came up over the weekend from whatever police department. So now the government will be keeping tabs on you for your employer (at a price, of course). Now say the employer wants to know if you were really sick on the day you called in complaining of the flu. For a little extra money the employer has the FBI run a scan for you that day to see where you've been (using security cameras that are already set up in many cities). Or say your employer just wants to know what you do for fun on the weekends. Just call the feds, they have all your information.

Additionally, if this database is created (and a company is made $1 billion richer because the government, naturally, is trusting the private sector with this) it could be the first step to numerous other blatant violations of privacy. Next could be blood samples or DNA samples to keep in a database. From there insurance companies may want your samples to make sure you're not prone to diseases (which, if you are, your premium would surely go up). The possibilities are endless.

There are those who say that the government will not abuse their power when it comes to protecting citizens. They argue that without it, we will be decimated by terrorists. We never had the Patriot Act before 9/11 and nothing happened (the only other terrorist activity came from home-grown white boys). And don't say 9/11 would not have happened if we had measures like the Patriot Act or this one in place; the warning signs were there. If you really want to improve domestic security, try pumping $1 billion into airport security. Anyway, it has been proven that the government misused the Patriot Act to get information they were not allowed to access. I'm assuming that the estimates are conservative on the feds' misuse because everyone's favorite non-partisan, totally fair attorney general Alberto Gonzales was involved.

CCTV Cameras (Source: Soft Hook)
In conclusion, this measure is one that a) is not necessary and b) highly risky. It opens up the door to so much that should not be property of the government. Eye scans and palm prints will do very little in the "war on terror." It will not make American foreign policy any better and less xenophobic. It won't make people hate America less (it would probably do the opposite). And it certainly does not seem to follow the letter of the law or American principles. Unless you want any conversation you have ever had to be published to those who know you and for everyone to know your every move, there is no reason to support this. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."