- A physicians' group is among a growing number of critics
imploring the Senate to scrap portions of a proposed homeland security
bill they say will seriously undermine civil liberties and grant the federal
government unprecedented - and unconstitutional - power.
- The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons said
yesterday that one section of the legislation would allow the head of the
Health and Human Services department to order Americans to receive potentially
deadly smallpox vaccines against their will.
- The bill gives "the HHS secretary virtually unlimited
powers to declare an emergency and order smallpox treatment that could
include forced immunizations, detainment and quarantines," said AAPS.
- The 480-page bill passed the House Wednesday night on
a 299-121 vote and is currently on the fast track to Senate passage. But
as more details of the bill become known, the number of critics who oppose
all or part of it also increase, including members of both parties as well
as liberal and conservative analysts.
- New York Times columnist William Safire, in an editorial
Thursday entitled, "You Are a Suspect," attacked the entire measure,
claiming a provision in the bill that establishes a broad Defense Department-administered
database of information on every American is akin to author George Orwell's
- "To this computerized dossier on your private life
from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government
has about you - passport application, driver's license and bridge toll
records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to
the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance
- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a 'Total Information Awareness'
about every U.S. citizen," Safire wrote.
- Called the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness
program, it would be administered by a totally new department called the
Security Advanced Research Projects Agency.
- AAPS said the dubious medical emergency language is contained
in Section 304, titled, "Administration of Counter Measures Against
- The bill gives HHS authority to declare an actual or
potential bio-terrorist incident while giving the secretary the power to
"administer 'countermeasures'" - like forced immunizations -
to "a category of individuals or everyone." Also, the bill gives
HHS the power to "continually extend" the emergency declaration
indefinitely, without Congress' consent.
- "Also, if you are harmed" by the countermeasures,
"you cannot sue or take any other civil remedy," AAPS said.
- "This section will give the [HHS] secretary unlimited
power to define a real or potential threat, to take any measures he decides
and to do it for as long as he wants," said Kathryn Serkes, a spokeswoman
for the group. "It's 'Alice in Wonderland' time again - an emergency
is just what [the secretary] says it is."
- Some lawmakers are also alarmed at the scope of the bill.
- The legislation "gives the federal government new
powers and increases federal expenditures, completely contradicting what
members were told about the bill," said Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, on
the House floor before the vote Wednesday.
- "Furthermore," he continued, "these new
power grabs are being rushed through Congress without giving members the
ability to debate, or even properly study, this proposal.
- "I must oppose this bill and urge my colleagues
to do the same," he said.
- Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., also opposes the legislation.
- "We're making a huge mistake passing the bill at
this time," he said Thursday. "There has not been a single hearing"
on its contents.
- Expressing concern about the manner in which the bill
was being fast-tracked, Byrd added: "If necessity is the mother of
invention, then politics is the mother of bureaucracy."
- Other problems with the bill, AAPS says, "include
centralized database provisions, airport security, unchecked power to Cabinet
officials, extent of the new bureaucracy, concentration of power in the
Executive Branch, suspension of the rule that prohibits secret advisory
committee meetings, limited public access to information and failure to
address border security and immigration issues, such as [the] tracking
of foreign students."
- Serkes said the provision dealing with HHS reminds her
of similar emergency legislation directed at empowering governors.
- The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, WorldNetDaily
reported in January, gives governors the power to order the collection
of all data and records on citizens, ban firearms, take control of private
property and quarantine entire cities, under the auspices of protecting
"the health and safety of citizens from epidemics and bioterrorism,"
according to one analysis.
- The version of the bill either under consideration or
adopted by the majority of states thus far was drafted in October 2001,
just a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, by The Center for Law
and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities, in
collaboration with several other organizations.
- "Just remove 'governor' from the old bill and insert
'secretary' and magically you have a federal bill that was firmly rejected
by voters across the country," said Serkes.
- Of the homeland security measure, Serkes added: "We
need an honest accounting of how this will work. It's too frightening to
allow it to be rammed through."
- In response to some of the concerns, Senate Democrats
are proposing amendments to the bill that would eliminate the liability
protections in the House version for vaccine makers. The White House says
it supports the amendments to an extent.
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday
there are provisions in the bill that "still allow people the right
to compensation or the right to sue if they believe they've been harmed
by the use of a particular vaccine." But, he said, the provisions
"only require that individuals seeking compensation begin by seeking
resolution through the Vaccine Injury and Compensation Program."
- "If an individual is not satisfied with the award
that is offered through that system, then they always have the right to
proceed and sue the manufacturer," he said. "But, in short, the
vaccine manufacturers will still be subject to liability. We just want
to close loopholes, where people can circumvent that process."
- From Brasscheck
- The Homeland Security Bill, as written, permits the federal
government, on nothing more than an official's whim, to demand that you
receive a smallpox or other vaccination, refusal being grounds for imprisonment
and fine. The bill also allows for the seizure of any property deemed necessary
for the purposes of dealing with a bureaucrat-decreed epidemic.
- Last year around this time, the Boston Globe floated
a story on this topic that included the image of thousands of people being
rounded up and taken to sports arenas for quarantine and mass vaccinations.
- Can't help but think of Chile.
- The Boston Post story seemed alarmist and out of the
realm of possibility and therefore discussion. Now the picture it painted
is on the verge of becoming legally possible.
- With a law like this on the books, someday an armed policeman
could appear at your door demanding you receive a federally mandated vaccination
or face arrest and imprisonment of indeterminate length without due process
("quarantine") ala Camp X-Ray.
- (But don't worry, you probably won't have to wear a blindfold
and sit on your knees all day with your hands handcuffed behind your back
- probably not)
- It's unlikely to me this law is being rammed through
NOT to be used sometime in the future.
- But why would anyone feel such a law was needed?
- Q: How do you stop a country full of people who are protesting
against a massive fraud-induced economic collapse, a distinct possibility
for the future of this country?
- A: You declare a terrorist-caused epidemic and start
sealing off neighborhoods and taking trouble makers to the local sports
arena for 'quarantine.'
- The new Transportation Security Administration with its
72,000+ - yes that's right 72,000 and growing - completely unnecessary
employees will probably come in handy insuring the safe transportation
of these 'infected' people to the other side of a barbed wire fence. They
sure will know how to quickly screen large numbers of people for weapons
so that police, national guard and military can focus on more elevated
- I would sure like to be wrong, but we should face facts.
- We have a five-time felon who traded with the enemy put
in charge of creating a dossier of private information on every private
- We also have the family that tended to the Nazis banking
needs before, during and after World War II and that enthusiastically supported
the slaughter of countless innocent civilians around the globe firmly in
charge of the US government.
- What else should we expect from people like this?