THE NCIC ABUSE BILL


(Opposed by the FBI, Dept. of Justice and President Clinton)

104th Congress 2D session.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

A BILL

To amend title 18, United States Code, to make misuse of information received from the National Crime Information Center a criminal offense.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.

SECTION 1. MISUSE OF INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL CRIME INFORMATION CENTER.

(a) In General. - Chapter 101 of title 18, United States Code is amended by adding at the end the following:

2077. Misuse of information received from the National Crime Information Center.

"Whoever obtains information from the National Crime Information Center without authorization under law or uses information lawfully received for purposes not authorized by law shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both."

(b) Clerical Amendment. - The Chapter analysis for chapter 101 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

"2077. Misuse of information received from the National Crime Information Center."


Other Links

Remarks by U.S. Representative Bob Barr (GA-7)
The Conservative Political Action Conference


Saturday, January 23, 1999

The sound of your freedom disappearing. Hear it? It may be silent. There's no great roar. But it's disappearing, and fast.

As we gather today, there is an insidious conspiracy underway just across the Potomac River in our nation's capital. This is not a conspiracy that meets in dark rooms in the dead of night. The co-conspirators don't identify themselves with a secret handshake and a code word. And, therein lies their greatest danger.

The conspiracy I'll be discussing today meets in a much different environment. They gather on weekdays -- with the exception of some Mondays -- in fluorescent-lit cubicles and rooms in gray concrete office buildings all over Washington, D.C. Some of their offices bear names we all know -- the Departments of Justice, Transportation, or Health and Human Services. Others are more obscure, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institutes of Health, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The members of this conspiracy have different motivations, most appear quite benign on the surface. Some want to acquire new law enforcement powers to fight criminals. Others would like to construct new databases to "ease" our entry into the new information age. Some are motivated by a desire to do good, others simply want to get a larger allocation of the federal budget.

Many of the members of this conspiracy don't know each other, work together, or even subscribe to the same political philosophy. Some are Democrats; others Republican; many not even registered to vote. In fact, "co-conspirator" is probably the wrong word to use when describing a network of people who are so loosely affiliated.

A more accurate way to put it is, they are simply people united by a common goal; a vision of the federal government and the role they want it to play in our lives. In a nutshell, they support enlarging the power and size of the federal government with little or no regard for the most precious right each of us has; the right to be left alone; the Right to Privacy. If allowed to continue, their efforts will irresistibly and inevitably culminate in a society in which the freedom and judgement of individuals, is completely replaced by the restriction and uniformity of federal regulation.

I've made some fairly bold statements here. Whenever someone alleges the existence of some vast, controlling force at work in a free country, they have a significant responsibility to prove their words are accurate (unless, of course, you are a defender of Bill Clinton alleging a "vast right wing conspiracy!").

Lest you think I haven't done my homework or that I'm jumping to conclusions too quickly, I'll tell you about several specific rights that are disappearing even as we sit here today. Throughout, I hope you'll remember my views have been shaped not only by my work in the Congress, but also by the years I spent as a United States Attorney in the Department of Justice and as an employee with the Central Intelligence Agency. These years have left me with some knowledge of the vast power of the federal government. Power that can -- and should -- be used to protect life and liberty; but which just as easily can be abused to take away those same rights.

Some of you may be familiar with a situation that came to light as the 105th Congress was sputtering to a close last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attempted to institute procedures requiring that every state adopt an explicit laundry list of federally mandated characteristics for driver's licenses -- a National ID card, if you will. This is bad enough in and of itself.

However, the further danger of these proposed regulations lay in its mandate that every American have their federal Social Security number permanently identified with their state drivers license. If this regulation had been implemented, anyone who wished to be allowed to drive on the roads paid for with their tax dollars, would first have to produce a Social Security number and have it printed on their drivers licenses.

Putting aside for purposes of argument what a government with totalitarian leanings could do with this information, imagine what might occur if your Social Security number and drivers license didn't match up due to nothing more than a bureaucratic snafu. You might not be able to board a plane, see a doctor, or register a child in school; all activities that certainly would require use of the government-mandated i.d. card. And, you certainly couldn't purchase a firearm. You would instantly be the subject of heavy scrutiny by suspicious law enforcement officers, bureaucrats, regulators and commercial credit institutions.

Fortunately, in the last weeks of the 105th Congress we were able to delay the implementation of this regulation for a year in order to buy more time to block it permanently. This happened because civil libertarians -- liberal and conservative activists -- from the ACLU to Eagle Forum and from CATO to the Christian Coalition, stood firm, and kept fighting, until we succeeded in blocking this ill-advised move, at least temporarily.

However, we discovered an interesting thing when we traced it back to its source. Turns out the authority for this draconian regulation was quietly slipped into a spending bill under a Republican-led Congress, with no debate and no separate vote, but with the ostensible goal of reducing illegal immigration. Unfortunately, in this case, the goal of giving the INS a new enforcement tool, as part of an effort to crack down on false i.d. cards, simply did not justify the means of giving the federal government unprecedented authority to track activities of each and every American citizen.

This same over-reaction to often legitimate law-enforcement needs, is also regrettably evident in the wake of catastrophes, such as airline crashes or terrorist bombings. For example, following the tragic bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, the Clinton Department of Justice immediately leapt forward to grab all sorts of new law enforcement powers, none of which would have done a single thing to prevent the bombing if they had been in place.

Again, a coalition of civil liberties groups, from the National Rifle Association to the Libertarian Party, was able to substantially reduce the intrusiveness of legislation passed following the bombing. But we had to fight virtually the entire leadership of the Congress, and initially a majority of both Democrat and Republican members, in order to stop the most egregious provisions of the bill from becoming law.

We see the same tendency in the wake of airline disasters. Never mind that your odds of dying in an airline crash are about 1 in 7 million, as opposed to a 1 in 600,000 chance of choking to death, or a 1 in 5,000 chance of dying in an auto accident. Whenever an aircraft crashes, we are greeted with new restrictions on travel at airports and calls for new federal power to crack down on suspected terrorists.

Following the tragic crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996, before the black boxes had even been found, and while most people in positions of leadership automatically assumed a terrorist bomb caused the crash (it didn't), GOP and Democrat leaders took to the airwaves to push for further "anti-terrorist" law enforcement funding and powers. Remember, this was only a few months after the omnibus 1996 anti-terrorism bill was signed, and while most of the billions of dollars it authorized were not even appropriated yet.

Benjamin Franklin discussed the folly of this view when he wrote that "[t]hey that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety."

The list of assaults on constitutional rights in recent years doesn't stop with measures designed to restrict illegal immigration, or combat terrorism. It's not a brand-new problem. However, it is poised to enter a new, dangerous, and possibly irreversible phase. And, as we all have seen, the Clinton Administration remains committed to an all-out campaign to deprive law-abiding citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is continuing its efforts to establish records of law-abiding gun owners despite the fact that federal laws -- including the Brady Act! -- make compiling such a database explicitly illegal.

Just this week, President Clinton proposed further restrictions on the Second Amendment in his State of the Union address. Even though a National Instant Check System has been implemented, the President wants to re-enact a waiting period for gun purchases; notwithstanding the instant check was expressly provided in law as a complete substitute for the Brady five-day waiting period. And, even though trigger locks are ineffective, and in fact dangerous in that they may hamper use of firearms for personal defense, the President wants to require you to use them.

I ask you, if an explicitly recognized constitutional right -- to keep and bear arms -- can be taken away from us, where does it end? Is there any right that we can count on after that? Many liberals who are incensed by the slightest hint of an attack on the First Amendment, would do well to remember it will be next in line if the Second Amendment is allowed to fall. Bill Clinton's and Sarah Brady's attack on our right to keep and bear arms must end, and must end now. Now, before it enters a new and far-reaching phase, if the anti-gun lawsuits mounted by trial lawyers encouraged by the tobacco settlement, dangling dreams of billion-dollar windfalls before mayors of cities with financial woes, are allowed to succeed.

Another battlefield on which we must fight to protect our most basic rights is on the ever-expanding electronic frontier that will be the new field for competition in the 21st Century. We must stop government bureaucrats and federal law enforcement agencies from requiring that manufacturers of encryption chips, designed to give companies and individuals an ability to protect their data, give the federal government the "keys" to every such encryption chip so the feds can crash into your computer whenever they want to, in your best interests.

It is for this reason I also introduced legislation in the last Congress to block the implementation of a national health identifier that would have paved the way for access to the most intimate and private medical details about each of us. This information could then be used by Washington and state bureaucrats, as well as private companies. Private companies that are often in bed with big-government proponents, joined in a common desire to accumulate information to be used to market to consumers.

History, from the decline of the Roman Empire, to the rise of Nazi Germany, shows that taking away privacy is the first step in a series of dominoes that ends in a complete surrender of individuality and free will. After all, if the government always knows where you are, what job you are seeking, what doctor you're seeing, where you travel, how you spend your money, how you defend yourself, and what arguably unhealthy behavior you engage in, what do the rest of your rights really mean? How long will you be able to defend your rights if an all-knowing government decides to take them away, by dictating that the "common good" requires you to become a plumber instead of an electrician, or a dentist rather than a lawyer?

It is also for this reason that I and others in Congress who care about civil liberties have fought repeated attempts by the FBI to expand its power to listen in on conversations, without specific court order. Despite our efforts, during the last Congress, the FBI obtained unprecedented new authority to use so-called roving wiretaps, which allow the Bureau to tap any phone a criminal suspect might use, whether that phone is in their home, a nearby restaurant, a neighbor's home, or your office.

Big brother is now listening to more of your telephones than you ever dreamed he'd get his hands on less than a year ago. The Clinton Administration, that great, self-proclaimed champion of civil liberties, is already the most wire-tapping in history. And they want more; much more. The Administration recently supplied Congress with a statistical projection of future wiretapping needs for the next 10 years. In that time frame, it said, electronic surveillance would exponentially increase, rising an incredible 54 percent in one year, and reaching an outrageous increase of 130 percent by 2004.

In the middle of this century, Ayn Rand wrote that "[c]ivilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." Rand had it right. Take a man's privacy away, and you've stripped him of his most precious possession, and rendered him much closer to the level of an animal. Take away his privacy, and you destroy his identity; and you can then control, mold, and manipulate him to the will of government

In this Congress, we face yet another battle in the form of proposed "Know Your Customer" regulations for the banking industry. (Don't you love these catchy phrases; like Great Britain's already developed "Citizens Smart Card," implying that you're not "smart" if you don't have a bankcard with an electronic chip that literally tracks your every move.)

Essentially, these regulations would require banks to compile detailed information on the financial transactions of their, customers without any regard to whether those customers are suspected of criminal wrongdoing. Information that simply indicates you make a "transaction" that is "out of character," triggers steps that result in reporting your finances to the government. A power which is, of course, not opposed by many financial institutions, would then be used by the industry for marketing purposes.

I will be introducing legislation to block these regulations next week. But, we need your support. If you don't tell your representatives you're opposed to continued privacy violations, I can assure you they will continue to occur.

Anyone who thinks these proposed laws and regulations will never affect them should take a hard look at the way asset forfeiture laws have been abused for the past several years. These laws allow law enforcement agencies to take your property, and hold onto it until you can prove your innocence of whatever crime you're being accused of. Here is just one example of the kinds of abuses these laws can lead to:

In 1992, 61-year-old Donald Scott was shot and killed in his home by federal agents searching his ranch for evidence of cultivation of marijuana. Ventura County (California) District Attorney Michael Bradbury concluded that the slight evidence given to the judge in support of the warrant contained misstatements and omissions which invalidated the warrant. Ironically, it was later revealed that Scott was "fanatically anti-drug." The District Attorney issued a statement concluding that law enforcement had been interested in the ranch because they were motivated by a desire to forfeit the valuable property.

In this case, and many others, the most basic principle of our law -- innocent until proven guilty -- has been turned on its head. In many asset forfeiture cases, the targets are presumed to be guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. The result is justice according to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, "[s]entence first -- verdict afterwards."

Efforts to reform and limit asset forfeiture laws have been repeatedly stymied in Congress for the past four years because of opposition by -- who else -- the Clinton Administration; in cahoots with many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. But, we're going to try again this year.

The fact is, a majority of Americans are deeply concerned about their eroding rights. But, it's also a fact they've been too silent for too long about their concern. It's time for the great silent majority of Americans to send a clear message to Washington. It takes repeated individual action. It takes constant organized action, such as ... CPAC. Use the tools of our era including the Internet ... FreeRepublic.com. Fortunately, the message is a simple one, but it must be repeated loudly and often. It only takes three words. Leave ... us ... alone!

Let us work, play, and learn without government meddling in every aspect of our lives. Give us the freedom to think and produce without government interference, and we will return new jobs, lifesaving advances, record contributions to charities and ground breaking works in the arts and sciences.

The issue of protecting basic rights -- privacy, property, and self-defense -- should be embraced by every conservative who supports individual rights, and opposes big government. In the final analysis, there is no more important struggle we can engage in than the battle to preserve the liberties that our predecessors have fought and died for since this great republic's first days at Lexington and Concord.

Because of the ease with which it can be gathered, accumulated, manipulated, and abused, the currency and power of the 21st century will not lie in military or necessarily in economic might, but .... Information. And its master will be government -- and commercial -- regulation; if we allow it. And, if we allow it, privacy will be the first and most profound victim of the 21st century.

If we abandon this fight, we will have forfeited our status as a great political movement based on principle. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them a society that embraces the freedom, dignity and rights of individuals; not one that elevates economic complacency and government nannyism to the status of a Holy Grail.


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