The Life and Death of Public Records
By Terry Allen, In These Times
Posted on February 21, 2006, Printed on February 21, 2006
Sometimes it’s the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore.
In These Times has obtained a draft of the proposed regulations now causing widespread concern among state officials. It reveals plans to create a vast database of vital records to be centralized in Washington and details measures that states must implement — and pay millions for — before next year’s scheduled implementation.