Right-Left Partners Launch New Ads Warning of 'Big Brother' Society As New Intelligence Reform Bills Attack Privacy

October 14, 2004 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and former Republican member of Congress Bob Barr today launched new advertisements to educate the public about the Big Brother” provisions in Congressional legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The American Conservative Union and Gun Owners of America will join the campaign early next week.

Both the House and Senate have passed bills to implement the findings of the 9/11 Commission. The ads highlight how certain provisions unnecessarily attack privacy and undermine civil liberties, and they call on constituents to contact their members of Congress to help persuade congressional leaders to strip the troublesome provisions during the joint House-Senate conference. The ads are running in the Washington Times, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

“Big Brother is un-American,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “A national ID system merely creates a false sense of security — identity does not indicate someone’s intentions. These cards would not have stopped Timothy McVeigh or the DC snipers, and other countries have already shown that national ID cards do not deter terrorism. Congress must reject this threat to our basic rights and liberties.”

Both the House and Senate bills lay the foundation for the establishment of a national ID card. The ACLU called a national ID card a misplaced, superficial “quick fix” that would not effectively deter terrorists and, instead, would pose serious threats to the rights of freedom and equality of everyone in the United States.

The ACLU noted that the vast majority of the 25 nations that have the highest frequency of terrorist attacks — including Israel, Indonesia, Nigeria, Spain and Peru — have a national identity card, raising serious questions as to whether such an intrusive system would do anything to deter terrorist activity.

“Congress should commit itself to protecting privacy,” added Bob Barr. “These provisions do little to preserve personal freedom and they have not been shown that they will make us any safer. To ask Americans to give up their privacy is misguided, especially given that these programs simply do not work. Worse still, the potential for these programs to grow beyond their original intent and further curtail our freedom is great and cannot be ignored.”

Furthermore, the money allocated to that system could instead be used to pay for proven traditional law enforcement methods. Coupled with the increasing number of internal checkpoints and comprehensive screening systems, the ACLU said that Americans may find themselves, in their everyday lives, having to “present their papers.”

Unlike the bi-partisan Senate bill, the House bill was crafted by Republican leaders and contains powers not called for by the commission: specifically, giving the government broad new powers to collect, store and share Americans’ personal information. The lack of protections has lead the ACLU to charge that federal intelligence agencies, the FBI, state and local police, and even private companies would have unfettered access to that private information

The House and Senate bills now head to conference committee where the ACLU has called upon lawmakers to strip the anti-privacy provisions.

“We all want to make America safe – but we must also ensure that we remain free,” added Murphy. “The American people must demand that their representatives in Washington don’t take away our right to privacy and give the government even more unwarranted control over our lives.”

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with Congress’s implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s findings, go to:

To view the ad, go to:

Sign up to be the first to hear about how to take action.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release