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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2004, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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House Bill Morphs 9/11 Advice

As the full Senate and House prepare to vote on competing versions of the 9/11 Commission recommendations this week, most eyes are on how the government's intelligence services will be revamped.

But civil liberties advocates, immigration groups and some 9/11 Commission members are criticizing provisions in the House bill that they say go far beyond the commission's recommendations.

At issue are provisions that would:

• create a de facto national identification card
• allow employers running a background check on an employee to obtain records of arrests and detentions -- not just convictions -- without limitation on republishing the information
• speed up the implementation of the newest airline passenger screening system, Secure Flight, by requiring congressional approval after it is deployed, not before
• require the State Department to study the feasibility of a worldwide database tracking American citizens' and foreigners' "lifetime travel history," including information on what countries Americans traveled to
• require the State Department to intervene with foreign media outlets and foreign governments to influence media coverage
• make it easier for the government to deport immigrants to countries where they might be tortured or to countries to which an immigrant has no relationship
• expand Patriot Act wiretap provisions and the ban on material support to designated terrorist organizations
• make it tougher for illegal immigrants to get a hearing to protest deportation
• prevent states from issuing driver's licenses to undocumented aliens by changing what documents are acceptable at Canadian and Mexican borders

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), who co-authored the Senate's version of the bill, has serious concerns about the House bill, according to spokeswoman Leslie Phillips.

"The House bill includes several provisions regarding law enforcement and immigration that were not raised by the 9/11 Commission and (that) the commission has explicitly asked be removed," Phillips said.

The Senate bill is also superior because it contains a number of civil liberties and privacy protections, including an independent civil liberties board, according to Phillips.

John Feehery, a spokesman for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, defended the bill.

"We think that in a time of war on terror, we have a duty to make the country safer," Feehery said.

He acknowledged that some of the House bill's provisions may not make it into the final bill, but believes "they would make the country safer."

Feehery also defended the provision that would require that all state licenses be standardized and all driver's license databases be linked together.

"If you are going to crack down on terrorists, you have to have minimum (identification) standards," Feehery said.

But civil liberties advocates such as American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Timothy Edgar call the bill an assault on the rights of noncitizens and a distraction from the task of reorganizing the country's intelligence service.

Edgar adds that the House bill does not create an independent privacy and civil liberties board as the commission recommended, which he said would lead to the "worst of all worlds."

"It would give us the centralized authority of a national intelligence director, without any effective counterweight to it in a civil liberties board," Edgar said.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, finds both bills troubling.

"Instead of encouraging government to focus on actual terrorists, the House bill encourages a vacuum-cleaner approach," Martin said.

Martin faults the Senate version for creating a searchable mega-database of the government's criminal and intelligence information without adequate privacy or civil liberties safeguards.

Both the Senate and the House are scheduled to vote on the bills and amendments to them Wednesday.

The two versions will then go to a committee to work out the differences in hopes of having a bill on the president's desk before the November election.

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2004, 02:08 PM
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RE: House Bill Morphs 9/11 Advice

they should call it the Orwell Act. or did I read that somewhere else... [;)]

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-07-2004, 02:11 PM
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RE: House Bill Morphs 9/11 Advice

I also understand there is a house proposal by the minority party that will not be allowed to come out of committee. In a purely political fashion, the republicans are forcing the democrat's hand and trying to get them to vote against the only proposal on the floor to make them look like they oppose the reforms.

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