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2002-11-21

Homeland Security Act Includes Union-Busting, New Snooping and Surveillance Powers: An Overview of the Largest Reorganization of Government in 50 Years

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In today’s Christian Science Monitor an article on the recently approved Homeland Security Act begins:

“When you board a plane in the next year, your pilot may be armed. Make a call from a pay phone at the ballpark, and it may be tapped. Pay for a sandwich with a credit card, and the transaction may wind up in an electronic file with your tax returns, travel history, and speeding tickets.

“These are some of the ways that the biggest reorganization of the federal government in half a century could trickle down into the minutiae of the daily life of Americans.

"The Homeland Security Act that President Bush is poised to sign is sweeping in scope and will have big consequences, intended and unintended, on everything from civil liberties of Americans to due process for immigrants."Added at the last minute to the House version of bill were several pro-business amendments including one that would retroactively protect pharmaceutical firms from lawsuits. One such lawsuit was filed against Eli Lilly by parents who blame its vaccine on causing autism. Companies that provide airport security and develop anti-terrorism technologies will also be protected from lawsuits.

Eli Lilly, the St Louis-based drug maker was the industry’s largest donor to congressional candidates at $1.6m, with 80 percent going to Republicans. Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, is a former president of North American operations of Eli Lilly, and the administration supported the measure.

The bill also directs $120 million to build a new homeland security research center to be housed at Texas A&M University. The university’s incoming president is former CIA Director Robert Gates who bragged to the Houston Chronicle last spring that his Washington connections would bring home the project.

Guest:

  • Gail Chaddock, Congressional correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Her article "Security Act to Pervade Daily Lives" appears in today’s paper.

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