The Bill of Rights within the Constitution of the United States is a precious thing to Americans who value freedom. It serves to protect us from what our founders recognized as the inherent potential for abuse found in all forms of government.
Since the SAFE Act is being foisted upon the financial industry at the end of this month, I thought it an appropriate time to reflect on our values, and to remind us all of a short, but incredibly important portion of that Bill of Rights; the fourth amendment, where the following words appear:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Regarding the fingerprint portion of the SAFE Act; the federal government’s requirement for fingerprints (obtained for their database with the Federal Bureau of Investigation according to the registration form) is absolutely and without question unlawful. The fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States makes that clear.
The Bill of Rights is for the people, and it was designed specifically to protect us from the federal government. According to its very authors, the Bill of Rights is intended to limit the scope of government authority as it relates to our unalienable rights, not the least of which is the right to earn a living without the government using the necessity of employment to force us into submitting to their unlawful attempt to obtain our biometric data, such as fingerprints, bodily fluids, iris scans, etc. In light of this, the SAFE Act can only be viewed as a threat made against us by our own government. It’s sad, but true.
I love America. In my opinion, Americans are, for the most part, the best people in the world. Our most simple traditions account for some of the best memories of my life. There’s no place I would rather live or raise my children, but allow me to make this clear: I do not trust our federal government with my fingerprints any more than I would trust the Chinese government with them.
Especially at a time when our government seems to be infested with individuals of questionable loyalty to the ideas of freedom; individuals who have espoused the ideals of socialism more than those of freedom and free markets, it seems foolhardy to me to allow them the capability to so easily identify and track me, a known capitalist who openly opposes their contempt for freedom, by using my fingerprint data. The potential damage that could be done to me and my family with such intimate information is almost too frightening to imagine. So, I don’t think it unreasonable that it concerns me deeply.
Still don’t see the harm in submitting your fingerprints to the FBI? Consider the following 2004 article from the Washington Post: “The Achilles Heel of Fingerprinting”
“Three highly skilled FBI fingerprint experts declared this year that Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield's fingerprint matched a partial print found on a bag in Madrid that contained explosive detonators. U.S. officials called it "absolutely incontrovertible" and a "bingo match. Mayfield was promptly taken into custody as a material witness. Last week the FBI admitted that it goofed; the print actually belongs to Ouhnane Daoud, an Algerian.”
I don’t think I should even have to comment on that. I would encourage everyone to read the entire article. The personal and professional damage that was caused to Brandon Mayfield by an overzealous federal agent is unspeakable. in a time when everyone seems to be subject to suspicion of being a terrorist, shouldn’t we all be concerned about the FBI having our fingerprints?
If it was simply a matter of a company requiring fingerprints, one could always just decline employment with that company and find one that doesn’t have such a requirement. The constitution is not intended to protect our rights from private companies, who, in a free society, have the right to require what they wish as terms for employment with their company. The federal government does not enjoy that right, according to our constitution. That right belongs to the people. The only rights that the federal government has are the ones specifically delegated to it by the constitution, their contract with the people; a contract that was paid for with the blood of patriots who wanted their descendants to be free. Do we honor them properly if we submit to this? It’s easy to wave a flag on Independence Day or Memorial Day and talk about how much we value our freedom and how much we honor those who fought for it. But do we really honor them if we buckle to pressure when it’s our turn to be brave and stand up for something bigger than ourselves?
I have no idea why the federal government wants or thinks it has a right to my fingerprints; especially since I have answered the questions on the registration form. By investigating that information, they can easily do a background check on me, going all the way back to the beginning of my life. The fingerprint data is simply not necessary, and it unnecessarily exposes me to the risk of someone else having access to my biometric data, which in the wrong hands, along with the rest of the information about me in public data bases, could be used for any number of frauds against me.
By requiring our participation in the fingerprint portion of the SAFE Act, the federal government is effectively telling us that they will prevent us from earning a living in the industry in which we have worked honestly for many years if we do not comply. Given that this is a time when new jobs in other industries are very hard to come by, I consider that a threat to my means of survival. I interpret it to mean that if I don’t comply, I will be forced into what could possibly mean abject poverty for me and my family. They have no right to force a choice like that on us, because it’s really no choice at all. Let me remind you that upstanding and honest people are not fingerprinted; criminals are fingerprinted. I have committed no crime, and should not be treated as a criminal without probable cause. I consider it an insult, as any honest person should.
I wonder when the financial industry is going to finally stand up to the federal government and hold them to their contract (the Constitution of the United States). There has to be a point at which honest Americans say enough is enough, and require their government to stay within the confines of their supposedly limited powers. If we do not, then those who died for the freedoms that we are supposed to believe in have died in vain. We only have one effective weapon at our disposal with which to resist them: our refusal to submit. Done by large numbers, it is more effective than any form of resistance ever known. If enough people say “no”, there is no way to enforce unlawful acts against the people. After all, our declaration of independence says that “government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.” The governed is us, and I do not consent. We don’t need wars to get our point across, we only need the power of one word, “no”. Tyrants have always known that the biggest threat to their power is peaceful resistance. It makes them look foolish, and it exposes them for the frauds they really are. All we have to do is say no. It seems simple, but it requires more courage than most of us have.
Some Americans may not remember their history lessons, but the Nazi party which controlled Germany during much of the 1930’s and 1940’s, had their own requirement that was similar to the SAFE Act. Instead of submitting fingerprints, the Jewish citizens were made to wear a yellow-gold star sewn to the outside of their clothing so that they could be identified easily. The dangers of allowing those in power to be able to track you so easily are not irrational, paranoid delusions, but well-substantiated concerns based on centuries of history. Government power, in every society ever known to man, has been abused and used to bring anyone to whom they are opposed into submission.
Of all forms of information about us, fingerprints have the most potential to be abused by those in power. For anyone who doubts that those in power would ever use certain information to abuse citizens, you should read your history – everything from the history of the Roman Empire to the duly elected Nazi party of Germany; Everything from the communist takeover of China to the mass genocide of Rwanda. The people in those societies all said the same thing most Americans are now thinking: “It can’t happen here.” Well, it could and it did. All we have to do is let them take our freedom a little bit at a time by violating a right here and a right there. Some of those rights might not seem so important by themselves. Letting them have your fingerprints might seem like a small thing right now. But the larger picture is that they are incrementally destroying the constitution for which Americans have bled and died, given life and limb and in some cases, suffered a fate even worse than death. We owe them more than this.
In all honestly, I don’t know what I am going to do when the choice comes down to submitting to this unlawful requirement or having a job to support my family. I hope that we will all find the courage to say no to this. I hope that we will all stick together and not compromise the things that make us principled people of integrity – in other words, American. I hope, but, sadly, I do not believe we will. I think we may lack the courage of those who came before us, and for that I feel nothing but shame. Knowing that those who declared independence all those years ago pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, it shames me that I might not even be willing to lose a job that may or may not even be here next year, whether I submit to handing over my fingerprints or not. I guess principles can be bought cheaply these days.
To leave you with one last thought, I submit the following quote for your consideration: “We must all hang together, or we shall all surely hang separately.” –Benjamin Franklin