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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Friday, November 15, 2002
2:25 PM

I told you guys you'd miss Rep. Bob Barr, the righty Rep. from Georgia who's still in office only because of the lame-duck session. Well, apparently he's leading the charge against John Pointdexter's creepy Total Information Awareness strategy and the Cyber Security Enhancement Act, a gross violation of privacy and of the quaint concept that citizens are innocent until proven guilty.

In the Washington Times' front-page story, Homeland bill a supersnoop's dream by Audrey Hudson:

Language tucked inside the Homeland Security bill will allow the federal government to track the e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners and U.S. citizens in its hunt for terrorists. In what one critic has called "a supersnoop's dream," the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program would be authorized to collect every type of available public and private data in what the Pentagon describes as one "centralized grand database."

It's passed in the House but is still up for grabs in the Senate, though attached to the greased-lightning homeland security bill.

Mr. [Phil] Kent [president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation] and outgoing Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, are lobbying the Senate to remove this and other provisions they say are a threat to civil liberties and restrict the public's right to know of government activities. "In defense of members of Congress, many don't read the whole legislation and very few people read the fine print," said Mr. Barr. "You would think the Pentagon planning a system to peek at personal data would get a little more attention.

"It's outrageous, it really is outrageous," Mr. Barr said.

UPDATE: Just wanted to belatedly link this Saturday editorial in the Post that summarizes the issue neatly in its first sentence:

ANYONE WHO deliberately set out to invent a government program with the specific aim of terrifying the Orwell-reading public could hardly have improved on the Information Awareness Office.

English lit grad that I am, the fact that Pointdexter is oblivious to the 1984 overtones of his office and his self-condemnig logo is grounds enough for dismissal. Some blog or another--and I'm sorry, I can't recall where I saw this--suggested that Democrats could have used Pointdexter effectively in the mid-term elections. To that I say hell yes, I would have helped them.

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