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It Must Be in the Genes

The principle that people are innocent until proven guilty is being threatened — again. President Bush wants to start requiring DNA samples from adults who are arrested for felonies; current law applies only to those convicted of crimes. Bush also wants to add juvenile offenders to the genetic catalog.

The American Civil Liberties Union fears the proposal would lead to more abuse and more invasions of privacy. What’s next: playing around with genetic codes that contain your susceptibility to hereditary disease?

While the Bush administration claims that the information would not infringe on privacy rights, history contains a warning or two. It wasn’t that long ago that Social Security numbers were created solely to trace payments but now they are universal identifiers. And census records were supposed to be used for general statistical purposes and not to track down Japanese-Americans and toss them in internment camps during World War II.

If we must have this legislation, let’s make it retroactive and make an exception for one high-ranking misdemeanor: George W. Bush’s drunken-driving arrest in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976.