The New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo released an article on Jan. 15, 2014 titled U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents. Is this the first step in restoring the Bill of Rights that were decimated by THE USA PATRIOT ACT enacted during George W. Bush’s “war on terror”?
Apuzzo’s article explains how profiling was increased after 9/11.
“The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.”
Apuzzo’s headline is actually a little ahead of reality. Eric Holder, director of the FBI, is considering new guidelines on profiling that would exclude religion and national origin. The revised directive on profiling has not been officially released.
It is expected that the new FBI rules will prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in initiating their investigations. It is not clear if there will be an exclusion of profiling in cases where national security is considered as the reason for surveillance.
There are many areas where profiling is routinely used to instigate investigations on individuals or groups. Response to the 9/11 attacks initiated a program of “special registration” that had tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim men required to register with the government based upon their religion or nationalities.
The 14th amendment to the Constitution was enacted on July 9, 1868. An edited statement of Section 1 says that
“…laws cannot be made or enforced that eliminate the privileges or immunities of citizens of the US, or deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deprive citizens of equal protection under the laws.”
It is clear that the war on terror declared by President George W. Bush gutted the 14th amendment privileges in favor of trying to prevent terrorist activities. THE PATRIOT ACT extended the internal war on terror to include the creation of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the subsequent spying on US citizens, foreign nationals, foreign governments, and an overall suspension of several key parts of the Bill of Rights. The FBI has now redefined its role to focus on anti-terrorist activities instead of solving crimes.
Profiling is a direct attack on the 14th amendment that has been justified by merely mentioning that a person might be a threat to national security. Profiling has included stop and search procedures because of race, and sometimes merely a person's presence in an affluent neighborhood. White citizens have been stopped in black and Hispanic neighborhoods on the basis that they must be there to secure drugs or engage in prostitution.
President Obama should lead the effort to refute profiling and other attacks on the Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Equal protection is denied when Arab and Muslim men are required to register with the government. Religious freedoms are being subverted by weakening the separation of church and state.
These new directives on profiling offer an opportunity to reconsider the overall war on terror that is being waged by agencies of the US government. This war on terror has denied many freedoms in the name of protecting us from the acts of a few. THE USA PATRIOT ACT needs to be revoked in favor of reinstatement of the Bill of Rights and due process for all. This is a first step in reestablishing trust in the US government.