The Battle In The States: Freedom Vs Protection - Part 1
April 6, 2009
By Tom DeWeese and Mark Lerner
Across the nation, state legislatures are struggling to take back their Constitutional rights as they also seek ways to protect us from outside threats. This has led to some near schizophrenic legislative sessions with laws swinging widely from left to right.
Making it more difficult to get a handle on the situation is the fact that there has been an outgrowth of near "rabid" anti-immigration groups that have sprung up demanding near-Hitler-style tactics to "fix" the problem. While the situation is certainly serious and demands action, these groups openly admit that they are willing to surrender their liberties if that is what it takes to end illegal immigration. They may deeply regret that cavalier dismissal of liberty. Once lost, it is rarely regained.
To address these issues, three very distinct, but widely variant legislative actions have appeared in the states.
First, legislation dealing with protecting the integrity of the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty has been introduced across the nation, passing in at least 21 states. The states are reacting to the frightening growth of the federal government through anti-terrorist legislation such as the Patriot Act and Real ID, as well as the outrageous spending included in the bailout and stimulus bills.
Second, to address the illegal immigration issue, legislation in many states would provide state law enforcement with the ability to share information through direct electronic access. Many law-enforcement agencies are eagerly supporting such legislation. Yet, this type of legislation clearly contradicts the intent of the states sovereignty effort.
Third, again racing back to the other side to protect personal privacy from federal surveillance, there is legislation introduced to prohibit the collection of biometric samples/data, social security numbers and the use of RFID chips in state driver's licenses.
One might ask, what do these pieces of legislation have to do with one another? They each go to the heart of a battle being waged across our country to decide how much Constitutional power the federal government has to collect, retain and share the personal information of each citizen, and how much power it has to force states to provide it.
Tenth Amendment legislation is exactly what the name implies - that states have Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and powers. It puts the federal government on notice that states will not act as its surrogates. The legislation unequivocally tells the federal government that its power comes from the citizens and the states and that federal powers are limited and defined rather than unlimited and arbitrary.
As for those patriots who believe the illegal immigration is so dire that liberty should be thrown on the bonfire, perhaps they need to better understand what they are demanding.
Legislation introduced in several state legislatures, and currently in debate, allows state and local law-enforcement agencies to have direct access to one another's databases. Some of the anti-immigration patriots might see it is as prudent legislation until one takes a closer look.
Most states now have Fusion Centers. Fusion Centers were originally intended to allow local and state law-enforcement to work alongside federal officers so that activity suspected of being terrorist related could be identified and responded to by all three law enforcement entities in a coordinated manner. Fusion Centers have representatives of all three working side-by-side in one office.
Fusion Centers are funded primarily by the federal government. Some believe them to be an effective tool to fight terrorism with little that one could find objectionable. The problem is, Fusion Centers have overstepped their intended purpose. This is typical when dealing with the issue of technology and invasive databases. Mission creep is just too easy.
In state after state we see Fusion Centers focusing on all suspected criminal activity, including misdemeanors. Some would ask you to believe that the mountain of information about citizens being accumulated actually stays within the borders of a state unless a citizen is suspected of terrorist activity. However, the Fusion Center in Oklahoma has been directed to develop procedures for the sharing of information with the FBI and DHS.
This means that direct electronic access is not limited to just state law enforcement agencies and departments. Since local, state and federal authorities are working together, there is no plausible reason to believe federal law enforcement will not gain access to all information a state law enforcement or local law enforcement authority would have.
All citizens should take note of a document produced in Missouri by that state's Fusion Center. That document targeted activists, including supporters of Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr. It directed Missouri law enforcement to give special attention to those holding such political beliefs and consider them to be a security risk and potential domestic terrorists. According to the same document, members of militias should also be singled out. According to the Missouri report, anyone advocating limited government and objecting to the massive growth of the federal government is to be considered a security risk.
Whether a citizen is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, the idea that citizens supporting their candidate of choice should be categorized as domestic terrorists is outrageous. The document is so inflammatory that the Lt. Governor of Missouri suspended the head state law enforcement officer in the Fusion Center. It is also worth noting that the Oklahoma Fusion Center will develop privacy protocols. One might reasonably ask why the privacy issues were not fully addressed before the Fusion Center became operational?
However, the issue of the collecting, retaining and sharing of citizen's personal information is not unique to Fusion Centers. Law enforcement in each state has information sharing agreements, not only with federal agencies/departments, but also with foreign entities and international organizations.
There is a literal web of Memorandums of Agreements, laws and other mechanisms such as participation in international organizations that has entrapped all Americans. The most personal and sensitive information of Americans is being shared globally.
A prime example of such dangerous legislation that could lead to an international surveillance state is Oklahoma's SB 483, which will authorize the Commissioner of Public Safety (DPS) the authority to enter into "agreements" with other state agencies and allow these other agencies "direct electronic access" to the DPS database of computerized photos.
Moreover, the Federal Department of Homeland Security is targeting such state databanks and clearly has stated it wants full access to them. It then intends to share them with international databanks. That is why every state must carefully consider the dangerous side-effects of such legislation being promoted as simply an answer to illegal immigration and terrorism.
As Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key says, such legislation is "incrementally putting into place systems that could, 1) violate citizens' constitutional rights, 2) unintentionally harm innocent citizens, 3) allow for the continual effective dissolution of our rights enumerated in the Constitution."