Forced Blood Draws, DNA Collection and Biometric Scans: What Country Is This?

The Gilmer Free Press

The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: we are all guilty until proven innocent.

Thus far, the courts have done little to preserve our Fourth Amendment rights, let alone what shreds of bodily integrity remain to us.

For example, David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found. During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, during which a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found. Nevertheless, such searches have been sanctioned by the courts, especially if accompanied by a search warrant (which is easily procured), as justified in the government’s pursuit of drugs and weapons.

Close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. However, because they cannot be used as the basis for arrest, breathalyzer tests are still required. And for those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, there are forced blood draws. One such person is Michael Chorosky, who was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government.

Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now the police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone. That’s what is called an end-run around the law, and we’re seeing more and more of these take place under the rubric of “safety.”

The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. When faced with a request for a DNA sample by police during a mandatory roadblock, most participants understandably fail to appreciate the “voluntary” nature of such a request. Unfortunately, in at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime. The remaining states collect DNA on conviction. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government. Indeed, the United States has the largest DNA database in the world, CODIS, which is managed by the FBI and is growing at an alarming rate.

Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.

Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. As for parents wanting to pick their kids up from school, they have to first submit to an iris scan.

As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”

As these police practices and data collections become more widespread and routine, there will be no one who is spared from the indignity of DNA sampling, blood draws, and roadside strip and/or rectal or vaginal searches, whether or not they’ve done anything wrong. We’re little more than economic units, branded like cattle, marked for easy identification, and then assured that it’s all for our “benefit,” to weed us out from the “real” criminals, and help the police keep our communities “safe” and secure.

What a bunch of hokum. As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, these databases, forced extractions and searches are not for our benefit. They will not keep us safe. What they will do is keep us mapped, trapped, targeted and controlled.

Moreover, what if you don’t want to be forced to trust the government with your most intimate information? What if you don’t trust the government to look out for your best interests in the first place? How do you protect yourself against having your blood forcibly drawn, your DNA extracted, your biometrics scanned and the most intimate details of who you are—your biological footprint—uploaded into a government database?

What recourse do you have when that information, taken against your will, is shared, stolen, sold or compromised, as it inevitably will be in this age of hackers? We know that databases can be compromised. We’ve seen it happen to databases kept by health care companies, motor vehicle agencies, financial institutions, retailers and intelligence agencies such as the NSA. In fact, 2014 was dubbed the Year of the Hack in light of the fact that over a billion personal data records were breached, leaving those unlucky enough to have their data stolen vulnerable to identity theft, credit card fraud and all manner of criminal activities carried out in their names.

Banks now offer services —for a fee—to help you in the event that your credit card information is compromised and stolen. You can also pay for services to protect against identity theft in the likely event that your social security information is compromised and misused. But what happens when your DNA profile is compromised? And how do you defend yourself against charges of criminal wrongdoing in the face of erroneous technological evidence—DNA, biometrics, etc., are not infallible—that place you at the scene of a crime you didn’t commit? 

“Identity theft could lead to the opening of new fraudulent credit accounts, creating false identities for criminal enterprises, or a host of other serious crimes,” said Jason Hart, vice president of cloud services, identity and data protection at the digital security company Gemalto. “As data breaches become more personal, we’re starting to see that the universe of risk exposure for the average person is expanding.”

It’s not just yourself you have to worry about, either. It’s also anyone related to you—who can be connected by DNA. These genetic fingerprints, as they’re called, do more than just single out a person. They also show who you’re related to and how. As the Associated Press reports, “DNA samples that can help solve robberies and murders could also, in theory, be used to track down our relatives, scan us for susceptibility to disease, or monitor our movements.”

Capitalizing on this, police in California, Colorado, Virginia and Texas use DNA found at crime scenes to identify and target family members for possible clues to a suspect’s whereabouts. Who will protect your family from being singled out for “special treatment” simply because they’re related to you? As biomedical researcher Yaniv Erlich warns, “If it’s not regulated and the police can do whatever they want ... they can use your DNA to infer things about your health, your ancestry, whether your kids are your kids.”

These are just a few of the questions we should be asking before these technologies and programs become too entrenched and irreversible.

While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy on a cellular level. Yet that’s exactly what we are lacking.

Once again, technology has outdistanced both our understanding of it and our ability to adequately manage the consequences of unleashing it on an unsuspecting populace. As for all of those databases being sold to you for your safety and benefit, whether or not they’re actually effective in catching criminals, you can be assured that they will definitely be snatching up innocent citizens, as well.

In the end, what all of this amounts to is a carefully crafted campaign designed to give the government access to and control over what it really wants: you.

~~  John W. Whitehead ~~


The Gilmer Free Press

High school seniors have the world at their fingertips - and a lot on their plates. Planning for the future can be overwhelming. Choosing what’s next after graduation is one of the biggest decisions of they’ll face, but if that decision includes a college education then the first step is clear: Complete the FAFSA.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the key to accessing both federal and state financial aid programs. Here in West Virginia, our goal is to get 55 percent of high school seniors to complete a FAFSA by April 15. Currently, only 19 percent of seniors have taken this crucial first step. We have work to do, and we know how high the stakes are.

In today’s global economy, education or training beyond high school is vital.  In fact, by 2020, 51 percent of all jobs in West Virginia will require at least a two-year degree.  A large number of these will be high-skill, high-paying jobs in our state’s energy, advanced manufacturing and information technology sectors as well as health care and education.

The opportunities are there, but reaching them will require education or training after high school. And the good news is - a college education in West Virginia is among the most affordable in the nation.

Through merit- and need-based financial aid programs, our state offers robust opportunities that make college more affordable. And completing the FAFSA can ensure upcoming deadlines for these programs are met.

Students applying for the merit-based PROMISE Scholarship need to complete both the FAFSA and PROMISE application by March 1. The FAFSA is the only application students need to complete to be considered for our state’s need-based Higher Education Grant, which has a deadline of April 15.

Skilled and educated graduates strengthen our economy. They strengthen our workforce, create jobs and solve problems. They meet the challenges of new industries, care for our loved ones and educate our children.

Thanks to the many options for an affordable higher education across West Virginia, our students have the opportunity to make a life - and a difference - in the Mountain State.

If you are interested in pursuing education or training beyond high school, I encourage you to access the FAFSA at and to visit our state’s free college- and career-planning website, There, you can get a jumpstart on a bright future - right here at home.

Nonviolence Is U.S. – Nonviolent Activists Shape American Identity

The Gilmer Free Press

As an American writer, I often examine the story of our nation for emergent archetypes of U.S. identity. Several are terribly embarrassing for a citizen of conscience: the Couch Potatoes of Consumer-Capitalist Society, the American Gladiator of War-Rage and Bigotry, the Avaricious and Appalling Wall St. Tycoon.

Yet, one plucky character threads its way stolidly through the story of the US, challenging the apathy and atrocities of other archetypes, marginalized in the media, misrepresented in history, proposing itself as an audacious, eternal figure in the identity of this nation: the Activist, linking arms with fellow citizens and striving for change. Flawed and heroic, with blind spots the size of Texas, with imperfect vision yet awe-inspiring determination, this character has appeared in many millions of Americans of all races, genders, sexualities, classes, faiths, creeds, and ages.

Against the backdrop of violence and greed, this character shows up again and again, refining the tools of nonviolent action into something as American as apple pie.

Nonviolent action, you say?

Yes, nonviolent action. We are steeped in a culture of violence, but as I was researching in preparation for writing my novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, which depicts a nonviolent movement in a slightly fictional United States, I was surprised to discover how frequently nonviolent action has been used to make change in the US . . . and how powerfully it has shaped our nation. The Civil Rights Movement comes to everyone’s mind, and perhaps the United Farmworkers’ struggle, but nonviolent action also liberated slaves via the Underground Railroad, brought us women’s suffrage and environmental protections, formed the core of the labor movement tactics, replaced child labor with public education, and, according to John Adams, won the American Revolution.

Often minimized in our history books, the tactics of nonviolent action played a powerful role in achieving American Independence from British rule. One hundred and fifty years before Gandhi, the colonists were employing many of the same tactics the Indian Self-Rule Movement would use to free themselves from Great Britain. The boycotting of British goods (tea, cloth, and other items) significantly undermined British profits from the colonies. Noncooperation with unjust laws eroded British authority as the colonists refused to comply with laws that restricted assembly and speech, allowed the quartering of soldiers in colonists’ homes, and imposed curfews. Non-payment of taxes would prove to be a landmark issue for the independence movement. The development of parallel governments and legal structures strengthened the self-rule and self-reliance of the colonists and grew local political control that would ultimately prove strong enough to replace British governance of the colonies. Acts of protest and persuasion, petitions, pamphlets, rallies, marches, denouncements, legal and illegal publications of articles, and disruption of British meetings and legal proceedings were also employed.

Reflecting on these actions, John Adams remarked that the independence of the United States was won long before a single shot was fired. Acts of noncooperation, civil disobedience, protest and persuasion, intervention, parallel institutions, and economic boycotts brought the independence movement to such a powerful position that the so-called War of Independence was not the Americans’ way of achieving freedom, but rather, the British Crown’s attempt to regain what was already lost.

Most Americans are familiar with the violent methods of the revolutionary period, but unaware of the potent effectiveness of the nonviolent actions that strengthened the internal organization of these American activists. The founding fathers and mothers were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination: subjugation of women, enslavement of Africans, genocide of native tribes, blatant racism, class prejudice and discrimination – the list goes on. Yet, an examination of how they waged struggle for independence from British rule will reveal early applications of the same tools the suffragettes would use for women’s rights, the centuries-old peace movement would use for anti-war struggles, the African-Americans would use for civil rights, the labor movement would use to win eight-hour work days, minimum wages, health and safety standards, etc. Although it was Gandhi who first used the term “nonviolent resistance,” it was an American, Henry David Thoreau, who coined the term “civil disobedience”.

Nonviolent action is as American as apple pie. It is part of our history and heritage. It has shaped this nation powerfully and potently. It has been one of our more noble contributions to global struggles for justice and equality. At a time when the American identity hangs between the archetypes of violence, greed, and apathy, the lineage of the nonviolent activist offers us an alternative . . . one it would behoove every U.S. citizen to emulate.

~~  Rivera Sun - The author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other books ~~

Parents Want Science Not Propaganda: Too Bad The Left Isn’t Listening

The Gilmer Free Press

I have been following the controversy over science content standards for West Virginia schools with a great deal of interest. And it seems clear that one side of this argument wants to use the school system to indoctrinate our children while the other side wants to pursue true scientific inquiry. As the parent of two children in the West Virginia public schools, I am firmly opposed to the use of our school curriculum as a means to push propaganda as science.

State board member Wade Linger has been vilified by the left wing and its supporters in the media. He and fellow board member Tom Campbell have been accused of turning their backs on science but the reality is that it is their critics who are guilty of the very things Linger and Campbell are accused of – trying to stifle dissent and impose their political beliefs as “scientific fact.”

Let’s look at the three standards, the versions Linger and Campbell proposed and compare them to the versions being pushed by the radical left.

Here’s the first standard:Linger/Campbell Version

S.6.ESS.6   Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise and fall in global temperature over the past century.

Left-Wing Environmentalist Version

S.6.ESS.6 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.Now, the Linger/Campbell version in no way limits the discussion. It includes exploration of ALL potential factors and their consequences. All it does do is include – as recent science has shown is fact – discussion of why there has been a recent leveling off of the warming trend and perhaps even a slight cooling over the past 20 years.

The version pushed by the radical environmentalists and leftists limits discussion to the “rise” of global temperatures, effectively stifling any discussion of recent evidence that brings those assumptions into doubt. In essence, it is a “our way or the highway” approach to science.Now, let’s look at the second standard:

Linger/Campbell Version

S.9.ESS.14 Analyze geoscience data and the predictions made by computer climate models to assess their credibility for predicting future impacts on the Earth System.

Left-Wing Environmentalist Version

S.9.ESS.14 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.Again, we find that the Linger/Campbell version, contrary to media reports, is the version that most accurately conforms to the scientific method. Linger and Campbell’s version would have student explore the computer climate models that have been used to predict global climate change and project its rate. Are they reliable? Is there any reason to question their accuracy? This is true scientific exploration.

Meanwhile, the version pushed by the radical left again “assumes” that these models are correct, and only asks students to use these models to make “evidence-based” forecasts of “current rate of global or regional climate change.” In this version there once again is no room for dissent or discussion. It is merely an acceptance of the validity of the data. No questioning about how the data was collected. No questioning about potential issues with the collection methods? No questions period!  Science? I think not.

Now let’s look at Linger and Campbell’s third suggestion:Linger/Campbell Version

S.HS.ENV.17 Debate climate changes as it relates to natural forces such as Milankovitch cycles, greenhouse gases, human changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and relevant laws and treaties.

Left-Wing/Environmentalist Version

S.HS.ENV.17 Debate climate changes as it relates to greenhouse gases, human changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and relevant laws and treaties.

Note once again that Linger and Campbell’s version opens the door to the widest possible discussion of the issues surrounding climate change. They look at all possible explanations, from natural cycles to human-caused impacts.

Meanwhile the Left-Wing/Radical Environmentalist version again limits discussion to only man-caused explanations. This is NOT free-thinking science. It is an effort to impose an orthodoxy of thought and use the school system to do so.

It is propaganda of the worst sort.

Linger and Campbell’s versions are far more in tune with the true application of scientific principles — the unfettered, unbiased pursuit of knowledge through observation and experiment as noted above.

True science is the relentless effort to DISPROVE, not to prove. It is the constant search for knowledge with the recognition that everything we know is subject to change or modification at any time given some new factor.

Those who would chain our science teachers to an orthodoxy of thought as determined by ANYONE are fundamentally wrong. Science should be the broad pursuit of knowledge without constraint. When science is subjected to the thought police it is THEN that it becomes nothing more than propaganda.  And our State Board of Education should simply say no to the chaining of education to any particular political philosophy. It should unanimously approve the proposals of Linger and Campbell and give our children the quality of education they deserve.

I would ask that all those concerned about our children’s futures please call the West Virginia State Board of Education and ask them to accept the Linger/Campbell science curriculum.  Do it for your kids. Do it today.

~~  T.L. “Terry” Headley - MBA, MAT, MA, BA - ONA, WV ~~

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