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President Bush Signs Homeland Security Bill &shy Is It “Homeland Security,” Or a Treasure Trove of Corporate Favors?

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President George Bush signed the Homeland Security Act into law yesterday.

The legislation creates a huge new government agency that will merge 22 existing agencies and 170,000 employees into one department. It is the largest reorganization of government since the creation of the Pentagon.

Tape:

  • President Bush signs Homeland Security Bill, November 26, 2002

The Homeland Security Bill has been enacted in the name of preserving national security. But according to the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, the legislation is a treasure trove of corporate favors unrelated to national security. Embedded in the legislation are corporate giveaways that benefit pharmaceutical companies, corporate tax evaders, and other GOP supporters at the expense of public health and safety. It also provides industry with secret access to government and legal loopholes to hide evidence of corporate misdeeds.

We’ll also talk about Thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative used by some companies in vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly have been sued by parents who believe their children were harmed by the drug.

One of the provisions buried in the Bill will protect companies like Eli Lilly from lawsuits. No legislator will admit to adding the provision to the bill. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona characterized the provision as “among the most inappropriate” in the homeland security legislation that has “no bearing whatsoever on domestic security.”

The White House has strong connections to Eli Lilly. White House budget director Mitch Daniels is a former Eli Lilly corporate executive. Last June, President Bush appointed Eli Lilly’s chairman, president and C.E.O. Sidney Taurel to a seat on the president’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Guests:

  • Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen, which has recently released an analysis of the Homeland Security Legislation signed into law yesterday by President Bush.
  • Lyn Redwood, a registered nurse and President of Safe Minds, which stands for Sensible Action for Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders. She is also the parent of an autistic child.

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