Oct 14 2016

CDC proposes martial law in the guise of “medical quarantine”

In the guise of a proposal for “medical quarantine“, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have proposed regulations that would give CDC employees sweeping martial-law powers of warrantless search, interrogation, tracking of movements, arrest, and extrajudicial mass detention (at the detainees’ own expense!) of individuals or entire groups of unlimited numbers of people for unlimited periods of time.

The proposal revives a dormant decade-old rulemaking initiated after the 2001 and 2005 anthrax scares in Washington, DC. But rather than finalizing the rules proposed (and widely criticized) in 2005, or responding to the comments submitted back then in response to the original proposal, the CDC has published a new and different but perhaps even more objectionable replacement proposal.  It’s unclear why this is happening now, but it seems likely that the CDC feels a political necessity to be seen as “doing something” to prepare for the possibility of another outbreak of Ebola virus disease.

As we say in comments we filed today with the CDC:

The NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] describes the proposed rules as a medical quarantine program. But they go far beyond what is medically indicated, authorized by statute, or permitted by the Constitution.

The CDC’s proposal completely ignores existing medical and legal procedures for involuntary commitment of individuals determined to constitute a danger to themselves or others. Instead, the proposed rules include:

  1.  indefinite extrajudicial mass detention without due process,
  2. compelled responses by travelers to extrajudicial interrogation concerning their exercise of First Amendment rights including rights of movement and assembly, regardless of whether there is any current outbreak of any communicable disease, much less whether there is any basis for belief that any specific traveler subjected to this interrogation is infected with such a disease; and
  3. charging innocent detainees for the costs of their detention.

These misguided, unauthorized, and unconstitutional proposals should be withdrawn.

[Details: Complete comments of the Identity Project, all 13,000+ public comments on the CDC proposal.]

7 thoughts on “CDC proposes martial law in the guise of “medical quarantine”

  1. Pingback: CDC proposes martial law in the guise of ‘medical quarantine’ | Media Unveiled

  2. Last-minute comments are still being processed and posted by the CDC. The final total was more than 15,000, but here are excerpts from a few comments by medical professionals and airlines:

    “The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (“AAPS”)… strongly objects to how the proposed rule … would vastly and unwisely increase the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address problems that would be better resolved through existing laws and regulations.

    Specifically, AAPS objects to the CDC’s attempt to assume power to detain an individual for 72 hours and longer without any federal court order, and the CDC’s proposed increase in penalties.

    AAPS also opposes the proposal that the CDC vastly expand its electronic monitoring of personal information, under the guise of protecting the public against rare, isolated outbreaks of disease.

    Finally, AAPS strongly objects to the coercive imposition of treatment … without the genuine consent of the patient.”


    “The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry association representing 268 of the world’s scheduled international airlines – including nearly all foreign and domestic carriers serving the United States – is pleased to provide its comments…. A4A Airlines for America (A4A) joins in these comments, as do the other air carrier associations…. IATA, A4A, CAA, NACA and RAA represent the majority of international aircraft operators serving the U.S. market, and having common concerns, are submitting this joint response to the NPRM….

    Airlines already transmit all passenger information that is made available to them in the booking process. The data elements described in the NPRM are either mandatory as part of APIS Quick Query (AQQ) manifests transmitted for every flight destined to the US, or possibly included in Airline Reservation System data (PNR) that is also transmitted several times for these same flights.

    While these data elements are permissible within the existing UN/EDIFACT PAXLST message standard, they are not currently part of the data element set authorized under existing AQQ requirements and would be quite burdensome to collect. Further, the CBP automated systems are not configured to capture and process such elements, nor are airline systems programmed to collect, format and transmit these elements to CBP via the DHS Portal. Programming efforts by both CBP and by airlines (or their system providers) would be significant and expensive… [I]t is important to note that the amount of time and resources to collect these new elements would likely be cost prohibitive and operationally unrealistic. Collection efforts to obtain data not provided at booking would have a substantial impact on airline operations, most notably to the check-in process….

    The Rulemaking erroneously assumes that the transporting airline will have more or different information about its passengers on a given flight when an Order is issued following identification of a possible health risk, as compared to that data which the airline has already transmitted to the U.S. authorities through PNR and AQQ transmissions. This is in fact, incorrect. All data that the airline has will have already been provided via the DHS router and stored within CBP systems….

    A number of States that have adopted API reporting requirements, predominately those located within Europe, have also included restrictions in their national regulations limiting the amount of time airlines are permitted to store API data for a given flight. In many instances today, airlines operating flights to the United States from one of these origin points are legally prohibited from storing API data beyond 24 hours following the flight’s termination. Based on these legal restrictions, airlines may be unable to comply with an Order due to circumstances beyond their control. Further, European carriers, in particular, are subject to stringent data privacy controls that prohibit them from transmitting data from airline reservation systems to any third country authority absent an official agreement in place. Those restrictions also prohibit the sharing of that PNR data for any purpose other than that for which the data was originally collected, or which was negotiated in the EU PNR Agreement. We believe the U.S .agreement with the EU on the exchange of PNR data is bounded by the use of the reservation data for the purposes of controlling terrorism, transnational and other serious crime. Accordingly, we are not convinced that any data that might be stored in a passenger’s reservation, including API data or other primary contact information, could legally be transmitted to CDC in response to a health alert.”

  3. Your comments about the CDC’s proposed quarantine rules are extremely important. The proposal threatens the right to travel, the right of free association, the right to privacy, and the “right of personhood” implicit in the Constitution.

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  5. Pingback: Can “quarantine” orders restrict travel and movement? – Papers, Please!

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