By Janet Phelan
Recent plans revealed by the Trump administration to collect the DNA of migrants at the border have evoked a significant reaction from the ACLU and other groups. In a recent mass email, the ACLU posited the following as indicative of what could happen if this DNA collection were allowed to progress:
The Justice Department is claiming it will help solve crimes, but history shows us that the government often abuses mass surveillance tools to violate fundamental rights.
The ACLU email went on to state:
DNA collection could become a normal form of government surveillance – for all of us – if the DOJ moves forward with its plans. Through this new policy, the government will vastly expand its law enforcement DNA database, giving it access to powerful information about the population at large.
Imagine a world in which the government uses your DNA to determine your likelihood of developing a particular health condition or succumbing to substance abuse, and then conditions your ability to work, have children, travel, or receive benefits on that. Or one in which the government tracks your movement by running the DNA you involuntarily leave behind on every cup, tissue, and more against its database.
Chilling enough. The problem is that the ACLU seems to have forgotten that DNA collection of all Americans is already taking place.
The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013—a reauthorization of the 2008 Act—was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent on January 29, 2014.
The Act authorized the establishment of the ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON HERITABLE DISORDERS IN NEWBORNS AND CHILDREN, and sets up, among other things, a central online clearinghouse for DNA collection data.
A CNN article published in 2010, “The government has your baby’s DNA” stated that the practice of state collection of newborn DNA began in the 1960s and is at this point in time universal.
The FBI also maintains a DNA database. The FBI reports that as of September 2019 its database contains over 13 million DNA profiles of convicts, over 3 million of arrestees and nearly a million forensic profiles. CODIS – NDIS Statistics | Federal Bureau of Investigation
The ACLU is clearly aware of potential abuses in DNA collection. So apparently, is the Secret Service. According to Ronald Kessler, the author of the 2009 book In the President’s Secret Service, a contingent of the Secret Service was assigned to collecting bedsheets, silverware and glasses and other items that President Obama had touched in order to protect his DNA from collection by unfriendlies.
According to revelations in 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was instructing Embassy workers to surreptitiously collect the DNA of foreign leaders.
DNA is the fingerprint of life. This unique expression lends itself to not only analysis and cures, as the Newborn Act would suggest, and not only to the resolution of crimes, as the FBI DNA collection efforts would have you believe, but also to weaponization.
In 1970, Military Review published an article entitled “Ethnic Weapons,” which discusses genetic differences between ethnic groups as well as known enzyme differences in terms of the prospects of developing weapons of war. Analyzing the relevance of enzyme differences, the article states that:
The factual basis of abundant enzyme inhibitors of widely different types can be neglected as little as modern methods for their distribution. They need not be gases in a true sense. Well-studied enzymes represent a small proportion of the total number of catalysts necessary for our vital processes.
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In terms of the use of incapacitants in warfare, the article goes on to say that
Another prospect may tempt an aggressor who knows he can recruit from a population largely tolerant against an incapacitating agent to which the target population is susceptible. An innate immunity would offer concealment of preparations and obvious advantages in many tactical situations. When the proper chemical agent is used against intermingled friendly and enemy units, casualties may occur in proportions one to 10.
Chillingly, the article concludes as follows:
Not only the factors have been found, but their inhibitors. Thus, the functions of life lie bare to attack.
This article was published fifty years ago. There have been quantum advances in genetic science since. Concerns are now being voiced that gene weapons (ethnic weapons) are being deployed in Africa and elsewhere. This article, first published in New Eastern Outlook, discusses the indications that the epidemic of hypertension and diabetes in people of color can be traced back to the efforts of the apartheid government of South Africa to create a blacks-only bioweapon.
Other researchers have stated concerns about the weaponization of AIDS and Ebola in terms of their proliferation in Africa.
As stated in a 2002 paper authored by USAF Colonel Michael Ainscough,
The techniques of genetic engineering began to be developed in the 1970s. In the 1980s, genetic engineering was already a global multi-billion dollar industry.”
Ainscough goes on to refer to the following categories as emerging threats:
- Binary biological weapons
- Designer genes
- Gene therapy as a weapon
- Stealth viruses
- Host-swapping diseases
- Designer diseases
The article states that
The biotechnology exists today for some of these possibilities. Indeed, some genetically engineered agents may have already been produced and stockpiled.
In light of the above, it might behoove us to expand our concerns about migrant DNA collection. Sure, the FBI might just be augmenting its database in case some of the migrants choose to commit crimes while in the US. That is certainly one thing to consider. However, in light of the emerging threat of individual and/or ethnic bioweapons development, and given that the US has already been busted for violating numerous stipulations of the Biological Weapons Convention including weapons development, delivery system development and proliferation, there might be other concerns we need to review.
The stripping of privacy rights since 9/11 has rendered us naked to surveillance and intrusion. The very last frontier of our privacy may, in fact, be our genes. Those who wish to enter the US for economic or political reasons should be aware that what they are giving up in the DNA collection process could very well be the most personal and valuable thing they possess. In fact, Americans have already done so.
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking , EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad. You can follow her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012703457651
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