Re: SAVE This Evidence

Ron Kean (
Thu, 28 Jan 1999 11:17:28 -0500

On Thu, 28 Jan 1999 04:13:03 -0500 Ian Goddard <> writes:
>At 01:38 AM 1/28/99 -0500, Ron Kean wrote:
>>But here is an excerpt from the new text that relpaced what was
>>(c) Informed consent required
>> The Secretary of Defense may conduct a test or experiment described
>>subsection (b) of this section only if informed consent to the
>>obtained from each human subject in advance of the testing on that
> IAN: There's no question that that provision
> addresses exactly what 1520 obviously lacked,
> and I think your raising it also address the
> idea I was replying to that now only the
> 30-day-notification period is lifted.
> If you read 1520(a), subsection (c) is also
> well-embedded into it, and there is no way
> for the Secretary of Defence to get around
> it (that I can find so far). But, as for
> the President and the rest of the Govt,
> 1520(a) imposses no prohibitions.
> I'd rather see 1520(a) start for saying that
> "No agency or member of the U.S. Government,
> or contracting for same or any entity may..."
> Instead, only one official is restrained.

Wanting the entire government to be prohibited from doing such testing, as opposed to just the Defense Dept. is a good idea. But the fact that 1520 does not do what you want is not necessarily a defect of 1520. I suspect that the context of 1520 was that it addresses the Defense Dept. only.

To put it another way, if there is a law which applies to those who hold commercial drivers and says they must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, it may be unfair to say that is a bad law because it fails to say that non-commercial license holders must also stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. That may be addressed in a different section of the code. The reason why laws are codified (rationally organized and indexed) is to make it easy to research the legality of actions, and to draft and repeal extisting legislation. When a law is passed by the Maryland legislature, the statute itself is just editorial instructions dictating changes in the Code.

I recall that several years ago there was a big flap about government-supported scientists doing unethical testing on people in the US, in years past. I think some of this legislation we are discussing may have been in response to those scandals. Without doing a broad study of all such legislation, its history and intent, and related policies and practices, it's difficult to draw valid conclusions. As with any issue involving human action, the motives and intents of the people involved vary across a broad spectrum. There will always be some individual police who are prone to mistreat suspects. The important thing is how the law and legal system deals with those problems.

> I think Hal's point was even deeper than I'd
> grasped. I think he was saying that 1520 was
> not a de facto "legalization," it wasn't saying
> "this is now declared legal." It was more like
> stepping in the planning room of an on-going
> project, such that the only reason the law
> was written was to tell the DoD that they
> have to give a 30-day warning FROM NOW ON.
> In short, that testing is allowable wasn't
> the point of 1520, the 30-day notice was.
> Ergo, the mass testing is considered legal.
> That seems to me to be a possible reading.

When reading legal codes, it is important to consider the context. It may be that even the 1977 legislation you were complaining about actually increased restrictions on government actions, instead of authorizing them. If you are looking for laws which authorize egregious government actions, you should try looking at the emergency acts of 1917 which authorize the president to do all sorts of things persuant to a declaration of emergency, essentially dictatorial powers, and at the McCarran act (ca. 1950) which endangers civil liberties, and at the Rooseveltian legislation of 1933 to 1935.

Republican/libertarian Congressman Ron Paul of Texas would like to see some of this bad legislation repealed. It is possible that if you contact Ron Paul's office they could give you a 'hit list' of such laws. Rep. Paul has recently introduced a bill to ban the use of social security numbers for use outside the SS administration (and maybe the IRS).

Ron Kean




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