UPDATED: Fox Completely Fabricates Report That TSA Will Screen Passengers' DNA

››› ››› SEAN EASTER

A Fox & Friends segment reported that the Transportation Security Administration will begin testing airline passengers' DNA at airports. In reality, the Department of Homeland Security is planning to test a portable DNA screener for use in certain immigration cases; the TSA is not testing the device and says it has no plans to test DNA.

UPDATE: On March 4, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy apologized for Fox & Friends' "error." Video and transcript at bottom.

Fox & Friends Falsely Claims "TSA Will Check Passengers' DNA Results" In "Genetic Patdown"

Fox & Friends Graphics Say TSA Will Check Passengers' DNA. Graphics on Fox & Friends indicated that the TSA will check passengers' DNA at airports:

Screen

Screen

Screen

[Fox & Friends, 3/1/11]

In Tease For Segment, Doocy Says: "Now The TSA Wants Your DNA." From the March 1 edition of Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): All right, 12 minutes before the top of the hour. Still to come on this March 1st, union protesters in Wisconsin now encouraging people to protest small-business owners. Why are they dragging the free market into that debate? And if you thought pat-downs were bad, just wait. Now the TSA wants your DNA. Will that make flying any safer? Smile. [Fox & Friends, 3/1/11]

Napolitano: Test "Reveals The Most Intimate Information About Your Genetic Makeup." From Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Well, the TSA could be taking the security check at the airport to a whole new level. This summer, the Department of Homeland Security may test new technology that would allow them to test passengers' DNA at the security line.

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): The government says it will be used to stop human trafficking and illegal immigration, but is this going too far? Judge Napolitano says, "No, keep going."

[laughter]

KILMEADE: Freedom Watch [inaudible]

ANDREW NAPOLITANO (Fox Business host): What a way to start this segment.

KILMEADE: I'm just jumping ahead, Judge. I know how you feel. But you're the host of Freedom Watch, you know, on the Fox Business Channel. So first up, this really offends you.

NAPOLITANO: Well, it offends the Constitution. Look, you own your body if you own anything. If the government wants the contents of your body -- this is very basic black-letter law -- it has to go to a judge and explains why it wants the contents of your body and that somewhere in your body is the evidence of a crime, like you swallowed some controlled, dangerous substance to prevent the police from grabbing it.

Short of that, they can't take it. It seems inoffensive. It's a Q-tip swab on the inside of your mouth. It takes just a couple of seconds. But it reveals the most intimate information about your genetic makeup that the government has no right to have.

Look at how we've gone. We've gone from a magnetometer, to a pornographic image -- graphic image of private parts, to the grope and feel, to the government getting the contents of the inside of your body. All of it unlawful. All of it without a search warrant. Where will they go next? [Fox & Friends, 3/1/11]

Carlson: Government "Claims" It Is Trying "To Build A Database Of Terrorists And ... Profile." From Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: All right, so is there any legitimacy to what the government claims that they're trying to do here, which is --

NAPOLITANO: No.

CARLSON: OK.

[laughter]

CARLSON: Which is to build a database of terrorists and -- sorry, I'm going to ask the obvious question -- profile, instead of swabbing everyone with a Q-tip?

NAPOLITANO: Actually, the government claims that they are looking for people who may be involved in illegal immigration and human trafficking. That's compelling a person to enter the country against their will for some illegal purpose. That has nothing to do with safety on airplanes. [Fox & Friends, 3/1/11]

Kilmeade: "Who Are These People Looking To Control People? I Think They're Just Trying To Stop Illegal Human Trafficking." From Fox & Friends:

NAPOLITANO: This doesn't keep anybody safe. This just feeds the government's voracious appetite to control people, to invade their privacy, and to learn more about them.

KILMEADE: But who are these people looking to control people? I think they're just trying to stop illegal human trafficking.

NAPOLITANO: It's a mentality in the government that says, "We have the power to do this, so let's just keep pushing the envelope." As I've indicated to you, from a metal detector to the contents of your body, all without judicial approval and all without a vote from Congress. These are bureaucrats making these decisions. These are not our elected representatives. [Fox & Friends, 3/1/11]

Reality: TSA Won't Use DNA Screener; DHS Already Offers "Absolutely Voluntary" DNA Tests In Refugee Cases

TSA: DHS' Citizenship And Immigration Services "Already Uses DNA Testing In Some Cases To Establish Familial Relationships In Refugee Processing." From a February 26 post on the TSA Blog:

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is doing preliminary testing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who already uses DNA testing in some cases to establish familial relationships in refugee processing. [The TSA Blog, 2/26/11]

TSA Is Not Testing Scanner, Has No Plans To Use DNA Testing. From The TSA Blog:

DHS S&T expects to receive a prototype DNA analyzer device this summer to conduct a preliminary evaluation of whether this kind of technology could be considered for future use. At this time, there are no DHS customers, nor is there a timeline for deployment, for this kind of technology - this is a simply a preliminary test of how the technology performs.

Again, TSA is not testing and has no plans to use any technology capable of testing DNA. [The TSA Blog, 2/26/11]

USCIS Field Manual: "DNA Testing Is Absolutely Voluntary." From the USCIS Adjudicator's Field Manual, which "comprehensively details USCIS policies and procedures for adjudicating applications and petitions":

(B) Authority to Require Parentage Testing . A petitioner must establish eligibility for a requested immigration benefit. An application or petition must be filed with any initial evidence required by regulation or by the form instructions. Any evidence submitted is considered part of the relating petition or application and may establish eligibility. 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1).

[...]

Although a director may require blood parentage testing, he or she has no statutory or regulatory authority to require DNA testing. However, when initial and secondary forms of evidence have proven inconclusive and blood parentage testing does not clearly establish the claimed parental relationship, field offices may have no alternative to suggesting DNA testing as a means of establishing the relationship. The petitioner has the burden of proof when the evidence submitted has not satisfied his evidentiary threshold and the USCIS would otherwise deny the petition without more conclusive evidence such as that which DNA testing could provide. In such cases, field offices should inform the petitioner that:

  • DNA testing is absolutely voluntary;
  • The costs of DNA testing and related expenses (such as doctor's fees and the cost of transmitting testing materials and blood samples) must be borne exclusively by the petitioner; and
  • Submitting to DNA testing is in no way a guarantee of the approval of the petition. [USCIS Adjudicator's Field Manual, accessed 3/3/11, emphasis added]

DHS Official: "Analyzer Avoids Sampling DNA That Could Identify Genetic Problems." From a February 24 article in NextGov, a National Journal Group publication that "provides coverage and commentary on the management of information technology in the federal government":

As a precaution to protect privacy, the analyzer avoids sampling DNA that could identify genetic problems, [Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager in the DHS Office of Science and Technology,] said. For years, privacy advocates have worried that DNA test results could be used to deny people employment, insurance or entry to the country. [NextGov, 2/24/11]

DHS Official: "We Have Privacy Officers And Civil Rights And Civil Liberties Officers Who Are Working Through" Privacy And Civil Liberties Concerns. From NextGov:

Although DNA analysis speeds identification of people, it raises concerns about privacy and civil liberties, Miles conceded. "We have privacy officers and civil rights and civil liberties officers who are working through all of those questions." [NextGov, 2/24/11]

UPDATE: Doocy Issues On-Air Apology For Error

DOOCY: Welcome back. Hey, I want to clarify a story we did a couple of days ago. It was about the Department of Homeland Security -- did the story on Tuesday. How they were doing DNA -- preliminary testing on a DNA device. However, the TSA says it will not be testing this technology as reported. We apologize for that error. All right. Moving on.

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies, Justice & Civil Liberties
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.