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Will The Feds Have Your DNA on File?

  • Whether it's "protecting children" or "fighting crime," modern technology could devastate the Constitution.
By Mike Blair

Some civil libertarians are taking a close look at the potential for civil rights abuses that has been established by the FBI.

Ultimately, all 50 states will be linked to the FBI computer in Washington that contains genetic profiles of 150,000 convicted state felons and DNA profiles taken from evidence left at the scene of 4,6000 unsolved cases, according to Dwight Adams, chief of the national FBI laboratory's scientific analysis system.

The states have collected an additional 350,000 DNA samples from convicted felons but have yet to analyze them and enter the genetic profiles into the FBI database.

Although all 50 states have laws authorizing blood sampling of some convicted felons to obtain DNA profiles, eight states have not yet begun collecting the actual samples.

"The system has the potential for abuse," said Ted L. Gunderson, retired FBI official.

Britain began its own DNA database in 1995. Since that time, English officials have made over 360,000 entries and have linked 30,000 tested individuals to crime scenes. Police officials say that the program has been so successful, they want the entire citizenship DNA tested and recorded.

Opponents of the program in the United States see Britain, which has no constitutionally-guaranteed rights, as a harbinger for the U.S. system.

Gunderson pointed to recent disclosures of shortcomings at the FBI national lab, including the sloppy analysis and handling of evidence and the actual production and altering of evidence to obtain convictions.

"My guess is that ultimately there will be a move within the FBI and its parent Justice Department to expand the DNA files beyond criminal elements and DNA evidence taken from crime scenes," Gunderson said.

"Someone is going to come up with the brilliant idea, probably for a start, to protect the nation's children by taking DNA samples at birth for addition to the national database," Gunderson said. "Then, since the claim will follow that it is aiding police to track missing children in America," the retired FBI chief said. "The brainstorm will then pop up that it would be a great idea to keep on file DNA samples of everyone.

"Imagine, you go to your doctor or a hospital and have blood drawn for some test or other and at the same time your sample is DNA classified for filing in a database in Washington.