What Price Security? (Editorials)
Now, here's what the deal's supposed to be: In exchange for greater security you give up certain rights. At least, that's what most Americans tell pollsters they want in the wake of September 11. But if the Homeland Security Act is any indication, under George W. Bush the deal they're getting is: You give up more rights for what may be less security.
The law, which the President signed on November 25, creates a new Department of Homeland Security, which is supposed to coordinate agencies that deal with terrorism. But that's way down the road. "It's going to take years in order to get this department fully integrated," said David Walker, comptroller of the General Accounting Office. And it does nothing to improve intelligence sharing between the FBI and the CIA.
The law already has a checkered provenance. Originally, it was the Democrats' idea, promoted by Senator Joseph Lieberman. While hearings were being held, the White House, fearing it would be left holding the bag for 9/11 intelligence failures, rammed its own version through the House in time to bash Democratic senatorial candidates in the recent election.
When the lame-duck Senate passed it, Bush's thirty-two-page proposal had bloated into a 500-page legislative sausage marbled with pork fat. There was a provision repealing a ban on awarding homeland security contracts to corporations with offshore tax havens and another exempting drug-makers from lawsuits on vaccines, intended to shield Eli Lilly from a rash of suits involving a mercury additive it once made for child vaccines and that was suspected of causing neurological damage or autism.
There are also provisions harmful to the health of our liberties:
* Privacy rights. …