Liberty vs. Totalitarianism, Clinton-Style|
Monitoring by I.D. and Database
Two of the principal mechanisms by which the rulers
of 20th century police states maintained their control over
their people were the file and the internal passport.
These governments kept a cumulative file (called the
dangan in Communist China) on every individual's
performance and attitudes from school years through
adult employment. Citizens carried an internal passport
or "papers" that had to be presented to the authorities for
permission to travel within the country, to take up
residence in another city, or to apply for a new job.
These two methods of personal surveillance -- efficient watchdogs that prevented any emergence of freedom -- required an army of bureaucrats fortified by a
Gestapo, a Stasi or a KGB, plus the ability to commandeer an unlimited supply of paper and file folders.
Technology has now made the task of building personal
files on every citizen, and tracking our actions and
movements, just as easy as logging onto the Internet.
Unknown to most Americans, coordinated plans are
well underway to give the Federal Government the power
to input personal information on all Americans onto a
government database. The computer will record our
school, business, medical, financial, and personal activities, and track our movements as we travel about the
These plans were authorized by the so-called conservative Congress and are eagerly implemented and expanded
by the Clinton Administration liberals. They plan to
force all Americans to carry an I.D. card linked to a
federal database, without which we will not be able to
drive a car, get a job, board a plane, enter a hospital
emergency room or school, have a bank account, cash a
check, buy a gun, or have access to government benefits
such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Putting all that information on a government
database means the end of privacy as we know it.
Daily actions we all take for granted will henceforth be
recorded, monitored, tracked, and contingent on showing
Legislative authority for these dramatic changes in
what we endearingly call the American way of life was
buried in two bills passed by Republicans and signed by
Bill Clinton in 1996: the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reform Act (known as
The illegal immigration law prohibits the use of state
driver's licenses after Oct. 1, 2000 unless they contain
Social Security numbers as the unique numeric identifier
"that can be read visually or by electronic means." (Section
656(b)) The act requires all driver's licenses to conform to
regulations promulgated by the Department of Transportation, which published its proposed regulations on June
17. (Federal Register, vol. 63, no. 116, pp. 33219-33225)
The illegal immigration law orders the Attorney
General to conduct pilot programs in at least 5 states
where the state driver's license includes a "machine-readable" Social Security number. (Section 403(c)) The law
also orders the development of a Social Security card that
"shall employ technologies that provide security features,
such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated
circuits." (Section 657(a)) A "smart card" with these technologies can contain a digitized fingerprint, retina scan,
voice print, DNA print, or other biometric identifier, and
will leave an electronic trail every time it is used.
The law orders "consultation" with the American
Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. AAMVA,
a pseudo-private, quasi-government organization, has
long urged using driver's licenses, with Social Security
numbers and digital fingerprinting, as a de facto national
I.D. card that would enable the government to track
everyone's movements throughout North America.
The welfare reform law requires that, in order to
receive federal welfare funds, states must collect Social
Security numbers from applicants for any professional
license, occupational license, or "commercial driver's
license." (Section 317) The Balanced Budget Act of 1997,
in the guise of making "technical corrections" to welfare
reform, deleted the word "commercial," thereby applying
the requirement to all driver's license applicants, and
even added "recreational" (hunting and fishing) licenses.
Another provision of welfare reform requires employers, since Oct. 1, 1997, to transmit the name, address, and
Social Security number of every new worker to a Directory of New Hires. This is supposed to help track
deadbeat dads, but the information is collected from all
new workers (regardless of whether they are deadbeats or
even dads) and maintained for 24 months.
The "instant background check" established by the
1993 Brady Act takes effect nationwide on Dec. 1. Under
this system, prospective handgun buyers must be screened
against a database of convicted criminals. But the new
national I.D. card will make it easy to keep a database of
gun buyers, too, which some states reportedly are doing
already. Although the Brady Act forbids federal agencies
from using the instant check system to register firearms,
the FBI says it plans to keep records of prospective
handgun buyers for 18 months.
A few states have already quietly legislated acquiescence in the new federal requirements, but fingerprinting
and smart cards have stirred an uproar in others. Most
Americans have never been fingerprinted and look upon
it as something that happens only to criminal suspects.
The New Jersey Legislature recently abandoned efforts
to pass Governor Christine Whitman's high-tech driver's
license called "Access New Jersey." It was designed to
contain a computer chip with 100 electronic keys capable
of storing large amounts of personal data. It would leave
an electronic trail each time the card was used to cash a
check, make a purchase, pay a toll, check out a book, get
insurance authorization to see a doctor, or used for
identification, all identified by Social Security number. These new federal laws effectively overturn the 1974
Privacy Act, which declared that "It shall be unlawful for
any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to
any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by
law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his
Social Security account number." On the pretext of
catching illegal aliens, welfare cheats, deadbeat dads, and
criminals, these laws will subject law-abiding Americans
to the police-state apparatus of national I.D. cards linked
to coordinated government databases.
Feds Grab for Medical Records
One of the major features of Bill and Hillary Clinton's
nationalized health care plan, which the public rejected in
1994, was giving the Federal Government a database of
every American's medical records. Each person was to
have a Health Security Card (which Clinton waved for the
cameras during his 1994 State of the Union Message)
with a "unique identifier number" that would give government bureaucrats easy computer access to everybody's
entire medical history.
The Clinton health plan included setting up a National
Health Board, responsible only to the President, with
extraordinary rulemaking powers to "assure uniformity"
and to decide what may and may not be spent on health
care, both globally and by each provider. Physicians and
other providers were to be required to report every
medical service to the national database.
The Card and the database were presented to the
public, on the one hand, as each individual's personal key
to free health care, and on the other hand, as a means of
"health care planning" and of eliminating fraud among
providers. The American people, however, easily recognized the Card and the database as bringing an end to
medical privacy and as federal control over what health
care we would be permitted to receive, with ultimate
rationing by bureaucrats or gatekeepers.
Clinton failed to get his nationalized health bill passed
in 1994, but he has been progressing toward the same
goal incrementally through other legislation. Sometimes
the bills are packaged as "for the kids" (e.g., the 1997
Kidcare bill) and sometimes as "stop the fraud" (e.g., the
1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
known as Kennedy-Kassebaum), but the bottom line is to
require computerized reporting and to gather more and
more information on government databases.
The Kennedy-Kassebaum law requires the Department
of Health and Human Services to adopt standards for a
"unique health care identifier" for each individual, as well
as each employer, provider, and health plan. Everyone
will have to submit an identification document with a
unique number in order to receive health care, or the
provider will not be paid.
The latest bait used by the Clintonian liberals to get
all medical records on a federal database is the current
drive to set up a federal Immunization Registry that will
tag all children at birth and track them until death. This
will achieve the original Clinton Administration goal of
computerizing the health records of all Americans, with
unique personal identifiers (Social Security numbers, if
possible), in order to make us conform to government
The 1993 Comprehensive Child Immunization Act
authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services
(HHS) "to establish state registry systems to monitor the
immunization status of all children." HHS has since sent
$417 million of taxpayers' money to the states to set up
these databases, and this money has been supplemented
by millions of dollars from the Robert Wood Johnson
The 1998 Centers for Disease Control brochure on
"Immunization Registries" explains the objective. CDC
is "committed to promoting the development and maintenance of computerized registries as a key data resource"
that will "fill the information gap" by furnishing the
government with "consolidated records," "instant access,"
and "automated recall notifications."
CDC sees itself as a social change agent, engaging in
massive grassroots lobbying (with taxpayers money, of
course). The brochure boasts that, following Clinton's
personal instructions to the Secretary of Health and
Human Services, CDC is working to overcome public
opposition. The brochure announces that CDC will be the
catalyst "to build political will and consensus" for this
health care registry and establish a time line for nationwide registry implementation.
The CDC admits it is working toward "integration of
the immunization registry movement with the rapidly
developing field of medical informatics, and promoting
the inter-operability of registries with other developing
medical information systems." Dr. Alan Hinman, former
CDC official and now with the Jimmy Carter Presidential
Center, stated publicly on May 14: "Immunization
registries would be viewed in these settings as merely one
aspect of the overall patient information system."
At least half the states have been putting children on
state databases, often without their parents' knowledge or
consent. Texas legislators discovered that the Texas
Department of Health has built up an electronic database
of 3.3 million Texas children, based on birth certificates
and Social Security numbers, while ignoring the law's
requirement for parental consent.
Allowing the government to collect and store
personal medical records, and to track us as we move
about in our daily lives, puts awesome power in the hands
of government bureaucrats. It gives them the power to
force us to conform to government health care policy,
whether that means mandating that all children be immunized with an AIDS vaccine when it is put on the market,
or mandating that expensive medical treatment must be
withheld from seniors.
Once all medical records are computerized with unique
identifiers such as Social Security numbers, an instant
check system will give all government agencies the power
to deny basic services, including daycare, school, college,
access to hospital emergency rooms, health insurance, a
driver's license, etc., to those who don't conform to
government health policies.
Don't be misled by the efforts in Congress to pass so-called privacy legislation that creates hundreds of new
crimes and layers of new bureaucracies, supposedly to
safeguard against unauthorized disclosure of confidential
health information. Tell your Member of Congress that
all HHS appropriation bills should forbid the spending of
taxpayers' money to collect or coordinate medical information on individuals. Our medical records are none of
the government's business.
Feds Want to Control Encryption
Do you worry that Big Brother (a.k.a. the Federal
Government) wants to monitor your phone calls, your e-mail, your computer files, your health and financial
records, and your business -- and even build government
databases containing personal information about you,
your activities, your medical treatment, and your finances? You should.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, "The right
of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,
shall not be violated," was written at time when unreasonable searches and seizures were carried out principally by
armed troops. This language is just as applicable and
vital today to protect us against unreasonable searches
carried out by modern mechanisms.
Encryption is the marvelous technology that can enable
us to have private phone conversations and send e-mail
messages that are secure from prying eyes -- just like
sealing the envelope of a letter. Encryption is a code that
makes your phone conversations and e-mail sound or look
like gibberish to everyone except those to whom you give
the key to decode them.
Encryption can enable American citizens to protect
both our Fourth Amendment rights and our First Amendment right to speak or write in any language, whether
English, Spanish, Greek, or code. Surely, American
freedom should include the right to have private conversations, to send private messages, and to keep private files
-- and we do have that right today.
Encryption is not yet in widespread popular use, but it
should be soon. Telephone users are becoming increasingly annoyed with the fact that nosy people can easily
listen in on our wireless (cellular and cordless phone)
conversations. As more and more people use e-mail for
their correspondence, they realize that sending e-mail
without encryption is like mailing a postcard -- everyone
can read it along the way to its destination.
But the Clinton Administration opposes our right
of encryption. Vice President Al Gore, Attorney General
Janet Reno, and FBI Director Louis Freeh, are all demanding the authority to read our encrypted messages.
They believe that, to be sure you are not breaking the law,
the Federal Government should have access to all your
private files and messages at any time and without your
That would be tantamount to giving the government
the power to steam open all the letters we send through
the mail. That's only done in totalitarian countries. No
free nation has ever tried to snoop on the content of
private messages -- until the Clinton Administration.
When you put messages in code, whether it's an old-fashioned code written on paper or a newfangled code
concocted on a computer, there must be a "key" to enable
you and the recipients of your communications to read
them. The Clinton Administration is demanding access
to all encryption keys through a system called "key
recovery" or "key escrow." Under one scheme, all
Americans would be required to deposit the keys to their
software files and communications with a "third party"
who would rapidly comply with government agency
requests without telling us. As an alternate, the Clinton
Administration is pressuring industry to make it impossible for Americans to buy any encryption system that
doesn't have key recovery built into it.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) says that "encryption is to
digital communications what deadbolt locks are to doors."
Giving the FBI access to our encryption keys would be
like giving our door keys to the local police, leaving our
doors unlocked, and relying on the police to catch burglars after they break and enter.
Everyone will eventually want encryption in the
computer age. There are all kinds of reasons why we
will want to encrypt our own computer files and e-mail
and telephone calls, and also want the people with whom
we do business to use strong encryption so that the
personal records they have on us will not fall into unauthorized hands.
Whether you use a computer or not, enormous amounts
of your personal information are already collected and
stored "on line" on somebody else's computer. Doctors
and hospitals store and transfer sensitive medical records.
Your bank and credit card companies hold and transfer
information about your finances. Your employer, and the
stores where you shop, collect and transfer information
about your income and purchases. The telephone company has a complete listing of every phone call you make
or receive, including the phone numbers, the time, and
how long you talked. The government requires cell
phone companies to track the location of your cell phone.
The Department of Health and Human Services wants
to build a national computerized registry of everyone's
health record and at least half the states have already built
a database of medical records. HHS is also building the
National Directory of New Hires with data forwarded by
the states on every new worker. Of course, the Internal
Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration
have computer files on nearly all Americans.
The public schools are starting to participate in a
national data collection system that will collect and
transfer private information about all students, not only
their academic records, but also medical, attitudinal,
behavioral, and family information that is none of the
schools' business. The plan is to have these electronic
portfolios available to the government and to the students'
FBI Director Louis Freeh doesn't like Americans
having private conversations. He told the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on
July 25, 1996 that encryption poses a "threat to public
safety." He wants to forbid the use of encryption products unless they are "socially-responsible," i.e., have "key
recovery" built into them so he can read them. He speaks
ominously about what he calls "the looming specter of
encryption" that he can't crack. This is the same Louis
Freeh who in 1996 proposed that one percent of the
telephone capacity in urban areas be reserved for wiretaps
(that's 10,000 phones in a city of one million). Even the
KGB and the Gestapo didn't reach that level of surveillance.
The FBI argues that it needs "key recovery" power to
crack down on drug lords and terrorists, but the bad guys
can buy top-quality encryption from dozens of other
countries. The danger from these criminals should not
require Americans to submit to police-state surveillance
of our daily lives and activities.
The FBI cannot be trusted with the awesome power of
key recovery. The FBI has already betrayed our trust in
so many areas, including turning over 900 "raw" personnel files to political operatives at the Clinton White
House, the multiple outrages at Waco and Ruby Ridge,
and the abuse of Richard Jewell, the falsely accused
Atlanta security guard.
A neutral panel of the National Research Council was
set up to make policy recommendations about encryption.
The panel called on the government to abandon its efforts
to restrict encryption. The panel concluded that increased
use of encryption would enhance our national security,
not diminish it. Thirteen of its 16 members had security
clearances with access to secret information, and they said
there are no classified national security reasons that are
relevant to the encryption debate. The Clinton Administration bases its campaign to control private encryption on
the alleged need to fight crime through wiretapping, but
the panel concluded that the ability of the private sector to
transfer confidential financial and other data over the
information highway without interception is far more
important. Strong encryption for individual use is the
number-one privacy issue in the information age.
Power Grab by Executive Order
The President who got by with issuing Presidential
Decision Directive 25 (asserting his authority to assign
U.S. troops to serve under foreign commanders) apparently now thinks he can get by with an even bigger grab
for power. On May 14, Bill Clinton quietly issued
Executive Order 13083 called "Federalism."
When you cut through the reassuring window dressing
restating the obvious (e.g., "the Constitution is premised
upon a system of checks and balances"), it becomes clear
that this Executive Order's real purpose is to grab large
new federal executive-branch powers at the expense of
the states. Clinton's Executive Order reminds us that
"There should be strict adherence to constitutional
principles," but (in Shakespeare's words) he "doth protest
too much, methinks."
The real key to this Clinton Executive Order is that it
revokes President Ronald Reagan's 1987 Executive Order
12612 on Federalism, which recognized that our Constitution reserves many important powers to the states.
Written in broad and ambiguous language, Clinton's
Executive Order amounts to a bold and overreaching
attempt to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, especially the
Tenth Amendment. Following are some of the matters
that EO 13083 asserts "justify Federal action":
- "When there is a need for uniform national standards."
- "When decentralization increases the costs of government
thus imposing additional burdens on the taxpayer."
- "When states have not adequately protected individual
rights and liberties."
- "When States would be reluctant to impose necessary
regulations because of fears that regulated business activity
will relocate to other States."
- "When placing regulatory authority at the State or local
level would undermine regulatory goals because high costs
or demands for specialized expertise will effectively place
the regulatory matter beyond the resources of State
- "When the matter relates to Federally owned or managed
property or natural resources, trust obligations, or international obligations."
Clinton's greatest skill is with words, and the words
of this Executive Order were artfully chosen to sound
harmless but, when interpreted by his activist judges,
rationalize the exercise by the President of open-ended,
ambiguous regulatory powers. If Y2K causes crucial
computers to crash and precipitate a national emergency,
Clinton will be ready with Executive Order 13083 to
assume dictatorial powers.
Congress should immediately repudiate Clinton's
impudent grab for power.
If you don't want the Federal Government to convert driver's licenses into a
national I.D. card or "smart card" that will allow Big Brother to build a computerized
dossier on every American, rush your comments by August 3 to:
National Hwy Traffic Safety Admin.
400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
mark your letter:
Docket No. NHTSA-98-3945
23 CFR Part 1331
Proposed Rule -- State-Issued Driver's Licenses
National Hwy. Safety Administration
202-366-4800, fax: 202-366-2746
If you think your medical records are your own business -- not the government's
-- and you don't want the government to put all your medical records on a
government computer where the bureaucrats will be able to force you to
conform to Clintonesque health care policy, write your Congressman and say:
"Add an amendment to every HHS appropriation bill to forbid the
spending of taxpayers' money to collect or coordinate medical
information on individuals."
If you don't want Al Gore and Janet Reno reading your email or listening in on
your cell phone conversations, write your Congressman and say
"Encryption is an individual right under the First and Fourth
Amendments. Don't give the Clinton Administration or the FBI the
power to read our e-mail and listen to our phone calls."
House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515