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FBI Hoovered Up Over 21 Million DNA Profiles — 7% of the U.S.
New DNA tech has Bureau running circles around a Congress unwilling to protect our privacy
The FBI is moving “ever closer to a universal DNA database,” as an expert told me in a story I reported for The Intercept recently. The FBI now possesses 21 million DNA profiles — equivalent to 7% of the U.S. population — a proportion rivaling that of China, not exactly a privacy haven.
Long story short, technology has once again outpaced privacy as breakthroughs in DNA processing run circles around a Congress unwilling to impose limits on our benevolent boys in blue. Breakthroughs in computer technology, not considerations of crime or national security, have precipitated the DNA explosion. Checking DNA samples against stored profiles is increasingly automated, supplanting the time consuming in-laboratory process needed up until now. Computing advancements have reduced the time it takes to analyze DNA samples from months to mere hours.
Other breakthroughs in DNA technology resemble science fiction. eDNA, or environmental DNA, is a technique that allows DNA to be gathered from thin air — including the air you exhale. The federal government is already investing in this groundbreaking technology. In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered a contract for laboratory services to assist with “autonomously collected eDNA testing”: environmental DNA testing based on samples not collected by a human being.
Unlike other biometrics like fingerprints, DNA can reveal far more about you than just your identity. “It can expose our propensity for serious health conditions, family members, and ancestry,” as one expert told me.
You can read the full story at The Intercept here.
If you have any insights into how DNA technology is being quietly deployed, please reach out to me via Signal at 202-510-1268.
Feinstein. McConnell. One of the stranger developments in American politics is how powerful U.S. senators stroking out has become a recurring genre of news story. And no, I’m not above covering it.
As I’ve explained on my TikTok (which I encourage you to follow here or here if you prefer Instagram), the percentage of Congress over age 70 has skyrocketed in recent years. That percentage has grown from 4% in 1981 to nearly 25% today.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein forgot that she gave her daughter power of attorney over her legal affairs during an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle. When asked about the power of attorney arrangement, Feinstein asserted she “gave no permission to do anything” before walking back her comment in a subsequent phone call.
While Feinstein is a Democrat, powerful elected officials staying in office past their sell-by day is a solidly bipartisan issue.
Not to be outdone, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConell insisted that he has only experienced freezing episodes twice and that they both just happened to take place in front of cameras. Seems unlikely but hey, McConnell’s office released a letter from the Capitol Hill attending physician saying, “There is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.” So there’s that.
Has an elected official’s doctor ever said they weren’t healthy as a horse?
-“Saudi Arabia's extension of oil production cuts until the end of 2023 or longer helps ensure energy prices will become an election 2024 battleground,” per Axios. It’s unusual for major outlets to address the obvious political dimension this bluntly.
-Twitter — OK, X — is accused of disclosing confidential user data at the request of Saudi authorities at a much higher rate than it is for the U.S., U.K., or Canada. Surely unrelated: the Saudis are the second largest investor in X behind Elon Musk.
-In a rare moment of bipartisan comity, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Trump’s former advisor, Jared Kushner, urged former President Trump to embrace the Biden administration’s attempt to broker a normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The reason they haven’t normalized relations — the lack of Palestinian statehood — is not addressed by this deal, but oh well, because Bipartisanship Good.
Feel Like This Should Be a Bigger Story
-Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, until recently the Republican presidential primary wunderkind (according to Washington media, anyway) has lost over two-thirds of his major donors. The DeSantis campaign is shaping up to be Marco Rubio 2016 levels of miscalling by the horse race media.
-Phenomecon, a taxpayer-funded convention about alleged paranormal phenomena like ghosts, is taking place now. Reporter Steven Greenstreet has a great report on the absurdity of this event which enjoys the validation of government officials like Senator Mike Lee and Governor Sean Reyes.
-Mexico decriminalizes abortion nationwide. Quite a decision by Mexico’s supreme court which only two years ago ruled abortion was not a crime in one single Mexican state, triggering a gradual process whereby other states decriminalized it.
-Pentagon expands its military exercises with Egypt, even as the U.S. considers slashing aid to poverty-stricken country dominated by a military junta.
-Japan considers dissolving Moonies church following Shinzo Abe assassination. I’m not a believer in political violence but it is pretty incredible how many of his objectives Abe’s assassin has accomplished.
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