USA Today's Walter Shapiro demonstrates why awareness is turning out to be the worst thing that could have happened to Total Information Awareness. Expressing what Owen Thomas calls "boundless optimism about the government's technology capabilities," Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is introducing a bill to stop the TIA program. The idea has gotten some support from conservative groups (the American Conservative Union, the Free Congress Foundation and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum among them), if not from actual conservative politicians. (Shapiro notes that not a single Republican senator showed up for Wyden's press conference.)
This odd-duck left-right convergence on privacy issues represents one of the more dramatic shifts in American politics since the Sept. 11 attacks. Who would have dreamed just two years ago that conservative House Majority Leader Dick Armey and right-wing firebrand Bob Barr would leave Congress and sign on as privacy-rights consultants to the American Civil Liberties Union?
Well, people who have been reading Reason might have dreamed it, but it's easy to be principled once you're out of office. The Republicans in Congress have enjoyed plenty of success by staying on the same page with the administration, but this will be an interesting, and important, test case of whether they observe any principles beyond team spirit.