Obama Says Collecting DNA After Arrest is “the right thing to do”

Posted on March 15, 2010


I often say that there are those to my left who want a nanny state and those to my right who want a police state, while I just want to be free. So one “bright side” to shifting from Bush and the Patriot Act’s question law enforcement provisions was, presumably, that President Obama would at least be too busy pushing for a nanny state to worry about expanding the power of law enforcement. Unfortunately, even that silver lining appears to be absent.

President Obama said in an interview Saturday with America’s Most Wanted that collecting DNA samples upon arrest was perfectly acceptable to him and, he seemed to imply, is a policy goal of his administration:

“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.”

Of course it is different, much different, than a fingerprint or booking photo. Your DNA contains all of your genetic information, essentially everything about you that makes you you from a biological perspective. It’s unlikely that such a database would be able to provide much information from your DNA other than that which is useful for the purposes of identification – at first. The problem lies in the fact that we have no way of knowing what other information the government will eventually want to comb from the registry, and once the government has the database there will be no destroying it.

The fundamental problems with Mr. Obama’s statement on America’s Most Wanted go further. He supports taking DNA on arrest, rather than conviction. So everyone who is arrested mistakenly or are, for any reason, ultimately never even charged with a crime (let alone those who are acquitted) will still be permanent residents of the DNA registry. Mr. Obama’s statement does not make it clear whether he would like to see DNA collected for all arrests, or merely felony arrests.

Fortunately Obama’s hands are full with the debacle that has become his gargantuan health care initiative to make this his priority. We must act in November to divide the government and make sure these plans do not come to pass.

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