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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Will Democrats be any better on civil liberties than Republicans?

[From the Independent Institute. The answer is of course "no," but some 
people have short memories, so it's worth posing the question. I 
remember the ACLU came up with this incredibly optimistic briefing book 
for the then-new Clinton administration, which pretty much disregarded 
everything in it. I'm sure some idealistic Republicans (silly them) had 
high hopes for the Bush administration way back when too. --Declan]


Civil liberties defenders have lamented measures passed in recent years
under the Bush administration, including not only the USA Patriot Act,
but also the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, which empowers the
president to summon the National Guard without authority from the
states. Will the Democrats save our civil liberties?

Independent Institute Research Analyst Anthony Gregory is doubtful. In a
recent op-ed, he writes, "Although the Democrats will sometimes attack
an egregious Bush proposal, they have not used the power of the purse or
the filibuster to do anything about it. Nor should we assume they will
be so mindful of civil liberties now that they are in the Congressional
majority and have their eyes set on the presidency."

Historically, Democrats have been little better than Republicans on the
issue of civil liberties, Gregory argues. The Clinton administration,
for example, "sought to allow the feds to peek at everyone's bank
account, have a key to all private encryption and e-mail, and censor the

One test of our lawmakers' commitment to civil liberties will come after
the Real ID Act takes effect in 2008. Signed into law on May 11, 2005,
the law "aims to transform state drivers' licenses into uniform national
identification cards with features that conform to the central
government's requirements," explains Charlotte Twight in THE INDEPENDENT
REVIEW. It also gives the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security full discretion to determine whether a card is valid. (Embedded
memory chip containing your tax or traffic records, anyone?) Congress
knew what it was doing when it passed the act, which had privacy
advocates outraged. But expanding the federal government's ability to
monitor ordinary citizens is a bipartisan project.

"Will the Democrats Save Our Civil Liberties?" by Anthony Gregory (12/20/06)

"¿Salvarán los demócratas nuestras libertades civiles?"

"Limited Government: Ave Atque Vale," by Charlotte Twight (THE

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jan 07, 2007 in category free-speech

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