THERE IS ANOTHER SERIOUS INCURSION OF AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES working its way through the Congress in the name of 9/11 and the “War on Terror.” And John Ashcroft is behind this Orwellian statute.
Via Chuck Spinney, I was sent the text of legislation titled the “Criminal History Access Means Protection of Infrastructures and Our Nation Act.” Get the acronym?
. . .The CHAMPION Act.
This provision was amended to HR 10, “To provide for reform of the intelligence community, terrorism prevention and prosecution, border security, and international cooperation and coordination, and for other purposes.” On Friday, 8 October, the House passed HR 10 and the language of the troubling CHAMPION Act 282-134.
I thought that conservatism was all about not trusting government because it could not help generating incursions and constraints on the rights of individuals. American-style liberals were always the ones who believed government could be positively directed to serve good public ends.
Spinney reports that a concerned Congressional staffer informed him that the language made it through the house in the form of a pilot program rather than as permanent law. The “pilot program” requirement is mentioned at the beginning of the text.
Chuck Spinney wrote to me “that it leaves the regulations in the hands of Ashcroft. To my non-legal mind, it seems to have some very ominous implications for civil liberties. Perhaps this is something that needs to be looked into before it is rushed into law.”
I totally agree. The text of the CHAMPION Act follows (emphasis added in bold):
Subtitle F–Criminal History
SEC. 2141. SHORT TITLE.
This subtitle may be cited as the “Criminal History Access Means Protection of Infrastructures and Our Nation Act”
SEC. 2142. CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECKS.
(a) IN GENERAL.–Section 534 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
(1) Under rules prescribed by the Attorney General, the Attorney General shall, within 60 days after the date of enactment, initiate a 180-day pilot program to establish and maintain a system for providing to an employer criminal history information thatÃ¢â‚¬â€
(A) is in the possession of the Attorney General; and
(B) is requested by an employer as part of an employee criminal history investigation that has been authorized by the State where the employee works or where the employer has their principal place of business; in order to ensure that a prospective employee is suitable for certain employment positions.
(2) The Attorney General shall require that an employer seeking criminal history information of an employee request such information and submit fingerprints or other biometric identifiers as approved by the Attorney General to provide a positive and reliable identification of such prospective employee.
(3) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may require an employer to pay a reasonable fee for such information.
(4) Upon receipt of fingerprints or other biometric identifiers, the Attorney General shall conduct an Integrated Fingerprint Identification System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (IAFIS) check and provide the results of such check to the requester.
(5) As used in this subsection,
(A) the term criminal history information’ and criminal history records’ includes —
(i) an identifying description of the individual to whom it pertains;
(ii) notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, or other formal criminal charges pertaining to such individual; and
(iii) any disposition to a notation revealed in subparagraph (B), including acquittal, sentencing, correctional supervision, or release.
(B) the term Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (IAFIS)’ means the national depository for fingerprint, biometric, and criminal history information, through which fingerprints are processed electronically.
(6) Nothing in this subsection shall preclude the Attorney General from authorizing or requiring criminal history record checks on individuals employed or seeking employment in positions vital to the Nation’s critical infrastructure or key resources as those terms are defined in section 1016(e) of Public Law 107-56 (42 U.S.C. 5195c(e)) and section 2(9) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101(9)), if pursuant to a law or executive order.”.
(b) REPORT TO CONGRESS.–
(1) IN GENERAL.–Not later than 60 days after the conclusion of the pilot program, the Attorney General shall report to the appropriate committees of Congress regarding all statutory requirements for criminal history record checks that are required to be conducted by the Department of Justice or any of its components.
(2) IDENTIFICATION OF INFORMATION.–The Attorney General shall identify the number of records requested, including the type of information requested, usage of different terms and definitions regarding criminal history information, and the variation in fees charged for such information and who pays such fees.
(3) RECOMMENDATIONS.–The Attorney General shall make recommendations for consolidating the existing procedures into a unified procedure consistent with that provided in section 534(f) of title 28, United States Code, as amended by this subtitle. In making the recommendations to Congress, the Attorney General shall consider—
(A) the effectiveness of utilizing commercially available databases as a supplement to IAFIS criminal history information checks;
(B) the effectiveness of utilizing State databases as a supplement to IAFIS criminal history information checks;
(C) any feasibility studies by the Department of Justice of the FBI’s resources and structure to establish a system to provide criminal history information; and
(D) privacy rights and other employee protections to include employee consent, access to the records used if employment was denied, an appeal mechanism, and penalties for misuse of the information.
I hope someone gets this to John Kerry to raise in Wednesday’s debate.
The questions should be:
President Bush, if you had been held accountable for misdeeds that only you know about from your self-described wild youth, would you have been hired by the people of the United States as President?
If your employers and business partners had known that you broke laws (not saying you did…but you and Jesus know) because this information had been plugged into a national data base and shared with anyone who wanted it and paid the Justice Department, “a reasonable fee,” would you have gotten where you are today?
Did you read Orwell’s 1984? Do you think sharking records of all criminal offenders with employers around the nation fits with compassionate conservatism?
Would Bush have made it under the laws his people are promulgating? I really think not.
— Steve Clemons