Tags: Privacy | Advocates | Protest | Drug | War

Privacy Advocates Protest Drug War

Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM

The letter, to be released at a news conference Monday, neither opposes nor supports the nomination of John Walters. Rather, the coalition, which includes conservative and some liberal groups, "wants to ensure that [Chairman Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Orrin Hatch] and the [other] members of the Judiciary Committee,” scheduled to consider the nomination Tuesday, "are fully acquainted with the threat posed to civil liberties by the current approach to the War on Drugs,” and that "needed reforms” will "prevent the War on Drugs from escalating into a full-fledged assault on our privacy and civil liberties.”

The coalition charges that privacy-intrusive efforts by the federal government include taking peeks at private e-mails, profiling "suspicious” citizens, and even seizing private assets.

One look at the line-up of signatories to the letter is enough to convince anyone that this is not a "soft on drugs” group.

The lead signatures are those of Paul M. Weyrich, national chairman, Coalitions for America, and his privacy expert, Lisa S. Dean, vice president for technology policy, Free Congress Foundation.

The coalition notes that even such tough-on-drugs conservatives such as Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., a former prosecutor, have expressed concern about heavy-handed government intrusions into the privacy of citizens.

If you travel by plane, especially on international flights, you will be interested to know how you can arouse the suspicions of the U.S. Customs Service. As noted by Georgetown University professor David Cole, who is quoted in the letter to the committee, the following "drug courier profiles” are used by Customs:

In short, everyone, everywhere at any time could fit the profile of a drug courier, according to U.S. Customs officials.

If you instead travel by train, apparently you’re still not safe. Last April the Albuquerque Journal reported Amtrak was giving Drug Enforcement Agency officials access to its ticketing database, giving the DEA the passengers’ last names, destinations, method of payment, and whether they were going one-way or round trip. Amtrak was given 10 percent of any property the government seized in making arrests.

Organizations signing on to the letter include:

Americans For Tax Reform; American Policy Center; Association of American Physicians and Surgeons; American Civil Liberties Union; Consumer Alert; 60 Plus Association; Property Rights Foundation of America Inc.; The Multiracial Activist and Examiner; Strategic Issues Research Institute of the U.S.; People Against Church Taxation; Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States; Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education; Small Business Survival Committee; Privacy International (London); The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation; Young Americans for Freedom; Republican Leadership Council; Catholicvote.org; Eagle Forum chapters in Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee; the Libertarian Party organizations in Montana and Colorado; Family Alliance.

At Monday’s news conference, the coalition intends to show how the government attempts to use its regulatory power to force private businesses to monitor their customers.

NewsMax.com will be there.

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The letter, to be released at a news conference Monday, neither opposes nor supports the nomination of John Walters. Rather, the coalition, which includes conservative and some liberal groups, wants to ensure that [Chairman Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Orrin Hatch] and...
Privacy,Advocates,Protest,Drug,War
470
2001-00-07
Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM
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