The Homeland Security Act
|President Bush (left) and the Director of the
Office of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
A key provision of the ‘Homeland Security Act’ grants
immunity to the pharmaceutical companies for present and future product liability
claims for vaccines. Further plans for ‘medical
litigation reform’ include
limiting product liability lawsuits against drug companies.
Breaking News: The New York Times on March 15:
Terror and Spying, Ashcroft Expands Reach"
Quote from the article:
"Even some of his conservative peers complain
that Mr. Ashcroft may have grown too powerful. To his critics, Mr. Ashcroft
is a Big Brother figure:
an attorney general whose expanding scope has allowed the Justice Department
to use wiretaps, backroom decisions, and an expanded street presence
to spy on ordinary Americans, read their e-mail messages, or monitor
their library checkouts, all in the name of fighting terrorism. And the
department's consideration of proposals that could give it still greater,
secret counterterrorism authority has provoked a fresh round of concerns."
Eli Lilly Payback Provision in the Homeland Security Bill
The conservative argument in favor of the special Eli Lilly Payback
Provision of the Homeland Security bill is essentially this: there's
evidence linking the vaccine preservative thimerosal to autism--only
anecdotal (which is true). The evil trial lawyers, however, will
use this anecdotal evidence to bankrupt, I tell you, bankrupt the pharmaceutical
industry, and then when the terrorists unleash smallpox or some other
biological agent upon us, we'll have no vaccines with which to protect
ourselves, because the pharmaceutical companies will have all closed
up shop and gone home.
Cities Urge Restraint in Fight Against Terror
(December 20, 2002) -- Nearly two dozen cities around the country have
passed resolutions urging federal authorities to respect the civil
rights of local citizens when fighting terrorism. Efforts to pass
similar measures are under way in more than 60 other places. Supporters
the resolutions say the measures have grown out of a belief that
the Patriot Act of 2001, the Homeland Security Act passed this year and
a series of executive orders have given the federal government too
much muscle in its war against terrorism at the expense of average
Americans, especially Muslims. The 2001 act expands government powers
in such matters as electronic surveillance, search warrants and detention.
The Legal Twists in Securing a Homeland
(November 27, 2002) - You have to question the wisdom of legislation
that encourages private citizens to share information they've collected
with our federal government. Offer them immunity from civil prosecution
for their information and you're asking for a witch hunt. Prevent
the press from gaining access to the information and source materials,
and you've got a formula for framing innocent citizens and a prescription
for a cover-up.
Al Gore on the Homeland Security Act
(November 19, 2002) - A. GORE: Well, the fear -- the fear is warranted,
but the remedy needs to be matched to the threat. And see, what is
-- the objective of terrorists is to destroy our way of life. We
should not give them part of their victory by destroying important parts
our own way of life. And a right to privacy is a part of every American's
right. And this whole -- you know, for many years going back to George
Orwell and before, there have been these warnings that the new technologies
of communication and wiretapping and everything create the possibility
of a Big Brother-type state, and we've always pushed that away and
said, No, we want nothing like that in the U.S. We will cast our
lot with free speech and openness and the rights of the individual.
You Are a Suspect!
(November 14, 2002) - If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before
passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with
a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription
you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive,
every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every
trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions
and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes
as "a virtual, centralized grand database."
The Patriot Act
Patriot II's attack on citizenship
(March 6, 2003) - A basic principle of American democracy is that members
of government serve at the behest of the citizenry, and not vice-versa.
The people, being sovereign, can use their votes to "throw the
bastards out," even though the government has no reciprocal power
to jettison disfavored citizens. Yet with the Domestic Security Enhancement
Act, informally known as "Patriot II," this basic rule is
under attack. The draft legislation, the Justice Department's proposed
sequel to the 2001 USA Patriot Act, was recently made public after
being leaked to the Center for Public Integrity. The bill would go
well beyond its predecessor in threatening essential civil liberties.
US Patriot Act laws are curbing disease research say scientists
(February 23, 2003) New federal laws meant to control bioterrorism
are making it considerably tougher for researchers to continue work with
such agents as anthrax and the plague, just as the United States
the brink of war with the country that supposedly possesses the greatest
bioterrorism threat in the world. Starting to take effect this month,
the rules require all researchers to register bioterrorism agents
with the federal government -- and make sure they are in secure facilities,
which are rare and expensive to build.
Ashcroft proposes vast new surveillance powers
(February 12, 2003) Proposed legislation leaked to the Internet on
Friday would criminalize some uses of encryption, and dramatically increase
federal law enforcement's domestic spying powers.A sweeping new anti-terrorism
bill drafted by the Justice Department would dramatically increase
government electronic surveillance and data collection abilities,
impose the first-ever federal criminal penalties for using encryption
in the U.S.
European Security Organizations Criticizes U.S. Surveillance Law
(January 23, 2003) - The media watchdog in Europe's leading security
organization criticized the United States on Thursday for snooping
on the private lives of Americans with a law passed in response to
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In a reproach to the Big Brother-like
tactics creeping up on post-Sept. 11 America, Freimut Duve of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe condemned the FBI
and the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service for monitoring library records
and bookstore receipts under the USA Patriot Act.
Patriot Act chills First Amendment freedoms
(January 22, 2003) - The US Department of Justice will not supply even
the most general information concerning the use of its new surveillance
powers. This attitude denies the American people basic information
they need to provide meaningful guidance to the department. The Act
has been amended a number of times to give greater access to public
documents. The Act contains a provision that allows a federal agency
to refuse an FOIA request if national security interests are at stake.
However, the Ashcroft memo limiting what can be released sweeps much
further than the original national security provision.
SF Supervisors Oppose Patriot Act
( January 22, 2003) - The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed
a resolution opposing the Patriot Act on the grounds it violates civil
rights. "The USA Patriot Act encourages the use of racial profiling
and creates an atmosphere of hate against immigrants who have done
nothing wrong," said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who introduced
the resolution. "This is something we in San Francisco will not
Total Information Awareness
Bay State entities building record-tracking technology
(March 7, 2003) - A handful of Massachusetts businesses are helping
to develop a controversial Defense Department antiterrorism program that
has been attacked by critics as an assault on individual privacy.
defense giant Raytheon Co., Woburn's Aptima Inc. and Burlington's
AlphaTech Inc. have won Total Information Awareness project contracts.
of other local firms and universities bid unsuccessfully for work
on the project.
DOD spy database funding revealed
(February 27, 2003) - The U.S. Defense Department has awarded millions
of dollars to more than two-dozen research projects that involve a
controversial data-mining project aimed at compiling electronic dossiers
on Americans. Nearly 200 Corporations and universities submitted proposals
to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to government
documents brought to light by a privacy group Thursday. John Poindexter,
who oversees the agency’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) program,
approved 26 of them last fall, including grants to the University of
Southern California, the Palo Alto Research Center, and defense contractor
Science Applications International.
Udall Joins House Members to Block Total Information Awareness Program
(February 12, 2003) - U.S. Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) today joined
a bipartisan effort to block the controversial Total Information
Awareness (TIA) project until Congress can review privacy issues related
plan. The TIA program - a wide-ranging Pentagon monitoring scheme
that critics say could threaten the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans
- aims to develop technology to collect information on all financial
transactions, travel, medical records and other activities of all
of the United States.
Snooping in All the Wrong Places
(December 18, 2002) - Not only would the Administration's plan to centralize
every American's records destroy privacy, the security payoff would
be minimal. The 2002 elections proved one thing: The promise of security
wins votes. The GOP campaigned on a pledge to make the country safer,
and it brought home one of the biggest midterm victories in decades.
That huge win may have emboldened the Bush Administration to ignore
widespread criticism of the Defense Dept.'s $240 million effort to
develop a Total Information Awareness system (TIA).
by George Orwell
|Winstone Smith (front) and the Big Brother
system in a scene from the 1984 motion picture.
In a grim city and a terrifying
country, where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police
can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for
the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's
official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls
the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through
a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual
from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from
reasoned inquiry to sexual passion.
Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join
a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated
to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he
hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime -- in his novel "1984",
George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian
control that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly,
he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious
world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are everywhere in evidence;
and Big Brother is always looking for his chance.